The Houthis have opened Pandora’s Box in Yemen

This whirlpool of action, reaction and counter-reaction is one we’ve been caught up in before, one we know very well and have grown tired of

Diana Moukalled
Diana Moukalled
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It was not just an isolated photograph or image, but a slew of videos that showed several fighters entering the homes – even the bedrooms – of their enemies, which they proudly pillaged and plundered in front of the camera, on numerous occasions.

These fighters, restrained by no one, stood in the middle of the bedrooms in the homes they had stormed, taking photographs of themselves, and quickly uploading them onto their personal social network accounts.

Some of these shocking pictures posted online showed fighters belonging to Yemen’s Houthi movement raiding the homes of a number of al-Islah Party figures, aiming down with their weapons on whole families while chewing leaves of the psychoactive stimulant plant Qat. One of them even had time to take a photograph himself wearing a dress he found, while others went through private underwear cabinets belonging to the families who had swiftly fled the capital Sanaa after the Houthi takeover.

Even government and university buildings, media outlets, and security service facilities were not spared this destructive orgy of pillaging and theft. Nor were the depots dotted around the city, which were used for vaccinating children against a multitude of diseases.

Sanaa is certainly not the first Arab capital or city to be violated in this manner. But what made the matter even worse was that while these citizens’ homes were being looted, with accompanying pictures brandished proudly all over the Internet, numerous “opposition” media outlets throughout the region ran headlines such as “A revolution in Yemen” following the seizure of the capital. The images on the Internet, meanwhile, showed us the true, uncivilized face of this “revolution.” They showed us how Yemenis cowered in their homes, fearful and shocked to see the destruction of their country before their very eyes. They swapped laments on Facebook and Twitter about how far, and how quickly, the situation had deteriorated, interspersed with personal stories about what they had endured the last few days – all while the “opposition” media hailed the snowballing chaos which accompanied this “revolution.”

This whirlpool of action, reaction and counter-reaction is one we’ve been caught up in before, one we know very well and have grown tired of

Diana Moukalled

The way the Houthi takeover has been presented in the media as “completing the revolution” in Yemen is an obvious message of support for what is happening. It would be foolish to claim that things were much better in Yemen before the Houthis rolled into town, but the welcome extended by some to their takeover will cause even more crises for Yemen, its people, and the region as a whole.

There is no worse condemnation of the actions of this group than the one from the movement’s very own leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi. Attempting to defend what some members of his group had done, he asked us what we expected from them; they had not come from “Plato’s Ideal City,” after all. Inhabitants of Plato’s city they certainly were not, but neither are most members of the political class in Yemen. So if things were not much better before the Houthis’ takeover, it is clear Yemen has been suffering from deep-rooted weaknesses in its security services and economy, as well as from the collapse of its political system.

The images we saw were examples of the disintegration of Yemen and the civil war we could soon see, which will endanger all citizens. These images will have painful consequences from which it will take decades to recover. The pain caused by the Houthis who attacked Sanaa, storming the houses of their enemies along the way, will not be exorcised except with an equal and opposite reaction. This whirlpool of action, reaction and counter-reaction is one we’ve been caught up in before, one we know very well and have grown tired of, though it seems we haven’t learned anything from its many previous outbreaks.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Oct. 7, 2014.


Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in Asharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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