Although conflicts in Yemen are driven by localised causes, the use of religious differences, especially charged sectarian language, continues to provide plausible motivations for their continuation, masking their political and contingent nature. Increased militarisation of local conflicts is likely to cause further outbreaks of violence and instability across Yemen, while the absence of state control over large areas of the country provides opportunities to local militant groups for territorial expansion and the recruitment of supporters. Meanwhile the co-option of Islamist groups by the Yemeni regime, in order to bolster its ability to constrain rival political actors, has inevitably led to conflicts that, while seeming to be driven by sectarianism, are in essence the manifestation of mostly localised yet deeply rooted political and social grievances against the regime.
1The unification of the Yemen Arab Republic and the southern People's Democratic Republic of Yemen in 1990 brought together the largely Zaydi Shi'a population of north Yemen with the Shafi'i Sunni population of the south, a divide that is being increasingly manipulated for political purposes.
2Yemen's January 2011 youth uprisings, which became the longest lasting of the recent peaceful protests in the Arab world, changed the political landscape and had a profound effect on the dynamics of conflict in the country.
3A perennial inability on the part of the state to establish control over large parts of the country has catalysed the rise of various local and regional actors, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the resurgent Shia Houthi movement.
4Recent Houthi expansionism has resulted in the resignation of the transitional government and the signing of the 'Peace and National Partnership Agreement', ensuring the appointment of Houthi advisors to any new government formed.