Yemen’s Shiite rebels proclaimed a formal takeover of the Arab nation on 6 February 2015, dissolving parliament in a move that completes their power grab in the region’s poorest nation where an al-Qaeda terrorist offshoot flourishes.
Demonstrators protested the rebels’ move in rallies in several cities, raising fears of a full-blown sectarian conflict between Yemen’s new Shiite tribal rulers, known as Houthis, and the disenfranchised Sunni majority.
Although Houthi rebels are bitter enemies to al-Qaeda, they also are hostile to the United States and the predominantly Sunni Saudis. The region’s Shiite powerhouse, Iran, looms as a potential key backer.
Houthi leaders declared that their Revolutionary Committee—a panel of top security and intelligence officials—was Yemen’s new governing authority.
But the Houthis, traditionally based in Yemen’s north bordering Saudi Arabia, don’t control the entire country. Secessionist forces and powerful tribes in the largely Sunni south are likely to confront with violence any effort by the Houthis to exert control there.