Less than three weeks after Houthi militants forced the resignation of Yemen’s president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa evacuated its staff on Wednesday February 11 after UN mediation attempts failed to bring the country’s various political factions to the negotiation table. It is, however, far from certain whether the Zaidi-Shiite clan’s momentum to shape the country’s politics is motivated by a sectarian agenda or by political aspirations to establish itself as the arbiter of the country’s political process. What is clear is that despite the group’s pronounced support for the National Dialogue Program that followed the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011, the chain of events leading to President Hadi’s resignation appear to have been part of a strategy meticulously executed by the group’s leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi. The group, however, does not have significant governing experience nor does it have the ability to repair the country’s battered economy. Despite being the country’s strongest political actor, as the leading arbiter of Yemen’s divisive and messy political process, the Houthis cannot govern alone and is therefore expected to explore a number of power-sharing arrangements beneficial to its positions and acceptable to its neighbors.
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