The ongoing war in Yemen and chronic humanitarian crisis are deeply rooted in the country’s turbulent history.
The current crisis in Yemen, a country crippled by war, took a dramatic turn on December 4 with the assassination of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh by Houthi rebels. But the political and sectarian divisions that dominate Yemen today – and which ultimately led to Saleh’s death – go back hundreds of years.
When Islam came to Yemen, the Zaidis, a Shia Islamic sect, became dominant in the north, and its imams were in full control there by the 9th century. The Shia presence would remain in the north for the next thousand years.