Shi’ite Houthis, al-Qaeda Clash South of Yemeni Capital

Houthi Expansion Brings Them Into AQAP Homeland

In control of the capital city of Sanaa for awhile, Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthi rebels began expanding southward yesterday, taking some important territory along the Red Sea, including the port city of Hudaydah.

They’ve quickly run into a roadblock in the Bayda Province, however, which is part of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) homeland. Houthis moved in, and major battles erupted.

AQAP holds sway in many of the tribal areas in the center of the country, along with some of the southern coast. The Houthis’ homeland is around the Saudi border, near the northern city of Sadaa, and they’ve expanded pretty effectively along the Red Sea coast.

Ideologically at odds and now in adjacent territories, the AQAP-Houthi fighting was virtually inevitable, and today’s fighting has seen at least 11 killed, with thousands of civilians fleeing the area in anticipation of the situation getting much worse.

The two aren’t the only games in town for Yemen, however, and across the rest of the southern coast, a Southern secessionist rebellion also looms large, with the increasingly irrelevant central government no longer able to carry out its usual harsh crackdowns on the southerners, who seek to restore an independent state of South Yemen.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.