War fighters, not health defenders: Yemen’s Houthis differ from Shia militias on COVID-19

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This article is featured in the ORIENT III 2020

In Yemen, COVID-19 has not been a driver of conflict de-escalation so far: rather, it accelerates political fragmentation and strengthens local players. The internationally-recognised government and the Houthi de facto authority adopt two different patterns of security governance (centralised vs multiple and multilevel), both unable to effectively deal with this crisis. Differently from the main Shia armed groups (IRGC; Hashd al Shaabi; Hezbollah), the Houthis are not using the pandemic to display governance effectiveness nor to present themselves like protectors of public health.

Eleonora Ardemagni is an expert of Yemen, Gulf monarchies and Arab military forces. She is an Associate Research Fellow at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), a Teaching Assistant at the Catholic University of Milan and Gulf Analyst for the Nato Defense College Foundation.

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