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Understanding the Crisis in Yemen: Evaluating Competing Narratives


In 2014, Yemen was referred to as one of the success stories of the Arab Spring. Yet, within months a rebel group, the Huthis, took over the capital and the Yemeni state nearly collapsed. Analyses of the crisis in Yemen have routinely reproduced one of three narratives: the Saudi-Iranian proxy war narrative, the sectarian narrative or the al-Qaeda/failed state narrative. However, a closer look shows that the onset of the crisis, although complex, is mainly driven by local factors and related to the lack of political and economic reforms after the transition in Yemen following the uprising in 2011.
Keywords: Yemen, Arab spring, Saudi Arabia, sectarianism, al-Qaeda