The Arab Spring was seen by many in the West as an opportunity for the people of the Middle East to overthrow entrenched authoritarian political orders and replace them with democratic, transparent and accountable governments that respect basic human rights.
In reality, many of these well intentioned popular revolutions, especially in places such as Libya, Egypt, Syria and Yemen, have begun to turn sour. Not only have these revolutions undermined security thus allowing the forces of anarchy and extremism to be unleashed, they have also re-ignited existing sectarian conflicts.
Since popular protests against Abdullah Saleh in Yemen began in January 2011, Iranian-backed Shia Houthi rebels in the north of the country have begun to make strategic and territorial gains. This has resulted in Houhti rebels being increasingly targeted in Yemeni army operations as well as being attacked by al-Qaeda and other Salafist groups in the country.