7 Things You Should Know About the Ongoing Coup in Yemen

| January 29, 2015

Last week the Houthis, an aggressive Shia militant group, staged a coup in Yemen.

Houthis surrounded the Presidential Palace in Sanaa and kidnapped the president’s chief of staff. (Kidnapping is an integral part of Yemeni politics.) Initially it seemed the Yemeni president, A. R. M. Hadi, might be able to negotiate a peace deal with the Houthis. But it soon became clear that the militants had already taken control of about 70 percent of the Yemeni military capability and had no interest in negotiation.

Rather than follow the dictates of the Houthis, President Hadi and his cabinet resigned in disgust. The Houthis are now in charge—but these rebel tribesmen don’t seem to be sure as to how exactly to go about the notoriously difficult job of running the country.

The only certainty in Yemen today is that the future will be volatile and difficult for average Yemenis.

Here is a rundown of the major players.

1. Despite support from America, the weak Yemeni government has been unable to balance all the country’s factions. Before the Arab Spring uprisings, the country was long run by dictator A. A. Saleh, who infamously described ruling Yemen as “dancing on the heads of snakes.”…

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