The AnsarAllah movement in Yemen offers important lessons for Islamic movements elsewhere to combine political and military struggles to be successful.
Yemen, a poor country, has been plagued by numerous socio-political and economic problems for decades. The overthrow of the corrupt regime of ‘Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi would not have bothered the Zionist regimes in the occupied Arabian Peninsula if that overthrow had not caused a major intellectual and methodological revolution within the global Islamic movement. What kind of an intellectual revolution? To answer this question we need to take a general look at the methodology of the Islamic struggle throughout the Muslim world.
Apart from geopolitical ramifications the events in Yemen have reopened the methodological debate within the global Islamic movement. The “soft” aspect of events in Yemen scared Bani Saud and their masters in Washington and prompted them to launch military aggression.
The “soft” side of events in Yemen is about the debate on what method works best in eliminating oppressive ruling systems and establishing a popular Islamic governing structure. For several decades Islamic movements in various parts of the world have been debating, through action and sacrifice, the best method of establishing an Islamic government. The debate has primarily centered on when to opt for political jihad and when to choose the path of military struggle.
On one side of the debate, proponents focus mainly on armed struggle in establishing the Islamic system of governance. The proponents of this thought include groups like the Taliban and the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria (GIA). On the opposite side are advocates of a political process like al-Ikhwan al-Muslimoon and the AKP in Turkey.
Those that see the solution to be only military have been manipulated by NATO regimes, as was the case in Algeria where GIA was used to destroy the Islamic Salvation Front, the biggest and the most popular Islamic organization in Algeria. Advocates of purely political jihad have been co-opted by imperialist powers as is the case of the AKP in Turkey, or prevented from ruling through brute force like the Ikhwan in Egypt.
The main methodological, intellectual and legal fallacy of both trends is that they have either completely excluded military jihad or political jihad from their approach.
The main methodological, intellectual and legal fallacy of both trends is that they have either completely excluded military jihad or political jihad from their approach. The only exceptions to this are Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine. These three were focused only on combating foreign occupiers but became involved in domestic politics only because internal issues began to create strategic obstacles to resisting foreign occupation.
Since the 1980s there has been a very aggressive and often foreign-instigated conflict between the two trends within the global Islamic movement. The only Islamic organizations that somehow merged the two methodologies are the MILF in the Philippines and the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), but neither achieved a strategic breakthrough. They were even forced to compromise on key principles of their struggle. In the case of the IRPT, the autocratic regime in Tajikistan almost completely dismantled the movement and eliminated it as a catalyst for socio-political change through an artificial political process by massive abuse of state powers.
Over the past eight decades Islamic movements either got carried away with armed struggle or the secular controlled political process. Apart from Islamic Iran, where Imam Khomeini (ra) led a popular movement that resorted to military jihad on a case-by-case and limited basis, almost all others focused only on one approach (political or military), completely ignoring the other.
This is where the Ansarullah movement of Yemen enters the scene. The movement began as a socio-political organization that implemented dimensions of military and political jihad simultaneously on the domestic level and won.
This is where the Ansarullah movement of Yemen enters the scene. The movement began as a socio-political organization that implemented dimensions of military and political jihad simultaneously on the domestic level and won. Ansarullah not only dismantled Hadi’s corrupt and puppet regime, but came to political agreement with forces outside of its immediate constituency and forced the US occupation forces to evacuate al-Anad air base in southwest Yemen.
No Islamic movement since the Islamic Revolution in Iran had managed to achieve this:
It is therefore, necessary from the perspective of imperialist powers and their puppet regimes to make the Yemeni experience fail...
This is the main threat posed by the Ansarullah movement led by Sheikh Sayyed ‘Abd al-Malik al-Houthi as it provides a practical model for addressing the methodological debate going on in the Muslim world for decades. It is therefore, necessary from the perspective of imperialist powers and their puppet regimes to make the Yemeni experience fail as soon as possible and not allow it to become the central point of the debate on the methodology of struggle in the Muslim world.
The method chosen by the US and its puppets, however, will backfire sooner than later. Foreign aggression helps the Ansarullah movement to strengthen its appeal and alliances across a broad spectrum of Yemeni society. This is not the only reason why Washington’s aggression on Yemen will end badly for Bani Saud and other GCC clients of the West. Even in the best-case scenario, the war in Yemen will be fought and felt within Saudi territory and the wider GCC societies. This will create perception of a great opportunity among domestic opposition and human rights groups within the GCC to utilize the moment for a potentially successful action for change.
Also, the foreign aggressors against Yemen are projecting their campaign as being directed against Islamic Iran. This will automatically push Tehran to assist the people of Yemen, as their victory or defeat will be linked to Iran. Since in politics perception is often as important as reality, Islamic Iran will not allow itself to be perceived as a loser; this might embolden other enemies of Islamic Iran in the region.
Regardless of the final outcome in Yemen, Ansarullah’s example will become a central point of reference for other Islamic movements facing similar problems as the people of Yemen. This is what keeps Bani Saud and its masters in Washington awake at night.
The specifics do not matter so much at the moment. The most crucial issue is that the Muslim world now has a potential answer to the debate on what approach works best in tackling domestic oppression and foreign interference. Events in Yemen show to both sides of the debate that the middle ground between the two approaches worked in Yemen. The Ansarullah movement succeeded against vast odds in ousting the regime, building a broad coalition and expelling foreign troops through a combination of political struggle and armed resistance. Regardless of the final outcome in Yemen, Ansarullah’s example will become a central point of reference for other Islamic movements facing similar problems as the people of Yemen. This is what keeps Bani Saud and its masters in Washington awake at night.