In April 2020, the Houthis in Yemen imposed a new “khums” tax, which would allocate one fifth of the income (20%), property, and potentially even lands and natural resources the Hashemites, or the tribe to which the prophet Mohammed belonged. Despite their Persian origin, the Houthis consider themselves among such descendants. In spite of the general outrage, this measure did not become publicly known until early to mid June. Rather than benefiting the poor directly as required by the idea of the zakat (charitable contributions which constitute one of the five pillars of Islam), the exacted money would first go to the select members of the society based on their purported lineage.
The Houthis have tried to present the issue as a restitution for past discrimination against them, and the media hascovered the issue as a matter of debate and perspective; however, the overwhelming majority of Yemen sees this tax as a racist, discriminatory measure that punishes an already stricken impoverished population overwhelmed by COVID-19, looting, and wars.
On Sunday, June 14, the Yemen Coalition of Independent Women organized an online panel discussion of the tax and the repercussions for the region.
Dr. Wissam Basendawa, head of the March 8 bloc for the women of Yemen, Jeddah, led the discussion.
Mr. Adel talked about the historical reference for legalizing racism and abolishing equal citizenship, and he said: “The Houthis are an armed racist religious group claiming racial discrimination with presumed religious texts, and using violence and intimidation to impose their vision on the general Yemenis with weapons and what they seized of the state’s capabilities. And it is linked to the Iranian project in the region, does the same thing as what Khomeinists do in Iran, and implements Iran’s agenda.
It does not matter to us that this group believes in itself what it wants. But the problem is that they are trying to impose that belief on the majority that disagree with them, through violence, theft of power, confiscating the right of Yemenis to manage their country and to benefit from Yemen’s resources.
Just as these people are currently linked to Iran, they are also an extension of a priestly current that has succeeded several times in seizing power during periods that are the darkest and most difficult in the history of Yemen. (These periods are also referred to as “Imaniya”)
The theory of discrimination that this group believes in contradicts the clear texts of Islam that the Yemeni people rely upon, as it contradicts all that humanity has achieved through its long struggle of great values such as freedom, equality, justice and all the universal principles stipulated in religions, laws, national and international regulations that have ruled On discrimination in all its forms, and people were considered equal in rights and duties.
All peoples in all countries, and throughout all times, are fighting for freedom, dignity, coexistence and tolerance. This evil project comes in this era called the era of freedoms, to push its followers to fight for slavery, and therefore it is a futile project that will not succeed but rather, exact, a heavy cost. Yemenis are now paying an enormous bill of their lives and possessions.
In this context, it is important for the world to know that the Houthis did not impose what is called the fifth (20 percent of all resources and profits) for themselves, but rather for a specific family within the Houthi component , and if a person is a Houthi leader in the highest ranks and does not belong to this family, he does not get anything from this tax. (It is worthwhile to remember that originally Houthis were just one specific family within a general Zaidi segment of Yemen, population, practicing an offshoot of Islam related to the Shi’a sect. However, following the insurgency led by the Houthi family, many of the practitioners who joined the coup called themselves “Houthis” in solidarity with the leadership) .
Note that they have taken everything, in the center of the state and their spheres of influence. They took about 4 billion and a half billion dollars, doubled taxes and customs, and denied employees their salaries. All this is unacceptable and unlawful .. However, Al-Houthi wants, by this step, to give legal cover to his ethnic distinction, and this is the eye of racism combined with theocratic religious theology and imposed by armed terrorism.
In this kind of racism, all the horrors that humanity has fought against throughout history:
- Religious extremism and penance.
- Ethnic racism.
- The tyranny of the minority and its insistence on majority rule.
- Obliterating the identity, history and heritage of the people.
- Starvation, impoverishment, and burglary aid.
- Incitement and demonization of society.
- Inciting and provoking the regional neighborhood militarily.
- Incitement to hatred of other nations and religions.
- The establishment of a stage of wars that worries the security of Yemen and the region in this sensitive place that supervises one of the most important straits of the world and adjacent to the most important sources of oil, in implementation of a crazy Iranian policy.
Al-Houthi today is racing against time to produce a bombshell washed-up generation that offers a cheap life to satisfy those who enslave it.
It is important for the friends and loved ones of Yemen, and all the good powers in the world, to understand that the Yemeni people not only suffer from the scourge of war sparked by the Houthis, but also suffer:
- A fierce war against all values of civilization and equality. . A fierce war against all livelihoods.
- A fierce war against all means of expression and protest. . And a fierce war against arts and literature and against society’s heritage and folklore.
- And a fierce war against education and all outlets of creation. Consequently, the struggle practiced by the Yemenis now against this gang is the noblest and holiest of the struggle, and the world, first and foremost the civilized world, must not stand idly by before a racist group that seized the arms of a state and state institutions and seized nearly twenty million Yemenis as hostages.
The dying world must also prove that democracy, freedom and equality are not just slogans on which generations have been raised, but they are values that they believed in and strive for, and such suffering that befell our Yemeni people came after Yemen had made strides in democracy, pluralism, freedom of the press and competitive elections. So this racist, backward project wanted to cause a setback that would put Yemen again in the graves of history. Whatever he does, he will not achieve his sinister goal in this country that has known civilization for thousands of years. But the bill will double as the time for salvation is late.
He concluded by saying that the Yemenis feel sorry that there are Western parties that do not handle the tragedy of Yemen responsibly and do not realize the consequences that could be paid in the future if the delay in defeating this danger.
He concluded by saying that the Yemenis feel sorry that there are Western parties that do not handle the tragedy of Yemen responsibly and do not realize the consequences that could be paid in the future in case of delay in defeating this danger.
The fifth is only one drop in a gallon of a matrix of racist measures that extend from social customs to artistic mixes to political rights. But it is a convenient way for the world to know the horror of what this people has been suffering since this gang appeared.
Dr. Arwa Al-Khattab, academic writer and human rights activist based in Berlin, continued the discussion with a presentation based on the excerpts from her doctoral dissertation, tracing the roots of this One Fifth Tax to past historical implementations.
Dr. Arwa talked about the historical reference for the economic trends of the Houthi militia and stated that the issuance of the One Fifth Tax was only the last episode of the Yemeni theft that has lasted for more than 1300 years since the introduction of the khums tax by the Imam Yahya Ibn Al-Hussein. She added that the Hashemites, from the first moment, issued fatwas and rulings restricting power and wealth to their hands alone. This inventory continued until today, when the properties of the Yemenis were confiscated. Historically, Imam Abdullah Ibn Hamzah confiscated the property of more than one hundred thousand members of the Mutafiyah sect from the Mu’tazila sects after killing them and the families of their women.
And she continued: “In the seventeenth century the Imam Al-Mutawakkil ruled God issued Ismail a fatwa that permits the taking of the funds of the Shaf’ah and a thousand books called“ The Hearer’s Alliance to take the money of the Shafa’ah. ”When some clerics opposed him saying that God would hold him accountable for the confiscation of the money, he answered that God would only hold him accountable for what He left them and not what he took from them. ”
She further talked about the continued confiscation of funds during the era of imams, the house of Hamid al-Din from 1918 until 1962, when many people were injured by dozens of destructive famines, while money and grain that were removed from them by force were rotting in the Imam’s warehouses. When the people asked the Imam to open the doors of the grain stores for the hungry, he responded with all his anger that the creator is nothing but the value of his creation. The creator who dies is a martyr and whoever lives is antiquated.
When he was killed in 1948, treasuries were chock full with money, and people were starving and impoverished. She also touched on the one fifth tax issued by al-Houthi after everything was confiscated by the Yemenis, not just 20%, and stated that al-Houthi is working to clone the Iranian regime. She concluded that Al-Houthi explained that the share of the Messenger, who is near kinship, is 20%, but that he will surely also receive the share of God.
Professor Wadha Morshed, Member of the National Dialogue Conference and Media Officer of the Women Empowerment Foundation, explained about the methods of collection and violations practiced by Al-Houthi and stated that in light of the war and hunger and Corona the Houthi terrorist militia approved the One Fifth Law, in dedication to the concept of a theocratic racist sectarian document which in essence institutionalized slavery and subjugation and divided the country into first and second class citizens. This law is not really a law since no parliamentary body has been available to vote on it or to approve it, but rather a unilateral decree that condemns the Houthis to infamy historically and is inconsistent with the International Convention against All Forms of Racial Discrimination ratified by Yemen.
Moreover, all proceeds from this unconscionable document are expected to end up in the war coffers for the Houthi effort against the Coalition. And as one of the commentators pointed out, there is no real historic evidence in Islam that Hashemites ever exacted this measure to begin with; at least, evidence points to the fact that the Prophet Mohammed and his wife Ayesha lived simply and sometimes could not even afford basic necessities, which contradicts the idea of this tax.
At this point, there were several issues worth raising about the contemporary issues of the Khums tax, though of course, the Houthis used these regretable historic precedents as justification.
First, the situation with Houthis is deceptive. THey were part of the general Zaidi community, but in reality were growing closer to Iran for long before the uprising. Later, they articulated the reason for uprising as restoration of equality and claimed that they were discriminated against by the corrupt Yemen government, but in reality they were making a political and tribal alliance with Iran, which promised them power, for decades before the coup. In return, they fully embraced Iran’s exportation of the Khomeinist revolution.
Second, Why now? What was the reason for the Houthi timing, after all the looting and marauding of the hospitals and stores they have already done? The practical immediate justification is the shortage of funding due to the international community cutting humanitarian aid, which was announced in April – and that’s when the tax was officilaly adopted. In reality, of course, this is not an issue of governance. Houthis have usurped power, and are not recognized as legitimate authority to levy taxes by any international or legal institution. So this tax is highway robbery masked in religious rhetoric. However, it is short sighted to say it only is to Houthis own benefit or to fill the war coffers against the Arab Coalition. Houthis have been fundraising for HEzbullah and Iran in various forms all along, after all, they have been structured like Hezbullah as a military force, but also as a religious force.
TO understand what’s going on, we have to look at the bigger picture. Iran’s goal was always the exportation of the Khomeinist Islamic Revolution all over the world, not just to create a religious Shia Crescent in the Arab world/the Mdiddle East, but using nationalist;/imperialist justification, to resurrected a Persian Empire run by Khomeinist religious principles. In the first years following the Islamic Revolution, Iran was in no position to do so. The country was poor, struggling with internal issues and fighting ideological battles. It did not have the wherewithal to do more than some limited meddling in the Gulf. Later, however, when Iran was strengthened, and long after the Iran-Iraq war, it had built up and invested into the institutions that made the systematic exportation of both the ideology and the structures possible. And of course the JCPOA, the nuclear deal concluded during the Obama administration, gave Iran all the tools it needed to fill the vacuum of power left in the region by the US withdraw from Iraq, and later from taking a position of “leading from behind” elsewhere around the region and the world. Flush with cash from the unfrozen assets as well as investments from European countries, Iran was now back in the game with full force.
To that effect, Iran coopted or created local separatist movements and organizations all over the world, – Hezbullah, Nigerian militias, Iraqi & Syrian militias, and the Houthis, that would be integrated into an ideological, financial, political, and military forces to serve this goal: the creation of an integrated network working together to advance Iran’s agenda, just like Houthis are working together with Iraqi militias to coordinate strikes against Saudis, and Hezbullah is working with everyone, teaching them skills, tunnel building, training them in weapons, and providing them with sophisticated missiles. They would also be fundraising for Tehran through illicit schemes all over the world: including in Africa & Latin America through drugs, diamonds, and gold for instance. The ultimate goal for Iran is to subsume the religious legitimacy in all of the Muslim world by gaining control of Mecca & MEdina. But how to do that when most of the Sunni world and even much of the Shi’a world is not on board with that idea?
To achieve that goal, Iran decided to resurrect the idea of “Hashemites” , the prophet’s family as the only legitimate source of power, and through that concept to attack the legitimacy of other Arab state governments. Iran has made claims to having its ayatollahs descend from Hashemites, also its proxy leaders like Hassan Nasrallah, and Houthis, whose origin is in Iran. None of these origin stories have to be true in order to have the rhetorical effect.
Even heads of ISIS are supposed to be Hashemites; in theory, Houthis could even share the profits from the tax with Daesh; ISIS and other SUnni terrorist organizations could be allies and fellow travelers to Iran’s goals in destabilizing Arab states and weakening governments. (Al Baghdadi and his substitute, Qureshi, are both Al-Hashemi).
To that effect, Iran will ally with any state, movement, organization, or other entity even if their ultimate vision of power and final agenda are conflicting. For that reason, Iran is happy to work with Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni & Shia Saudi opposition – whoever is willing to delegitimize current governments is at least a temproary ally; in the future, all of these competing claims for power will, in Iran’s plans, be displaced of bringing back the Hashemites. As an example, Ghaddafi’s and Qatar’s former Emir Hamad’s secret plant to oust the Saudi monarchy, for instance, would play right into Iran’s hands, and no doubt that was one of the reasons why Iran drew close to Qatar.
In this context then, Houthis are merely doing Iran’s bidding, and the imposition of tax uses funding shortage as an excuse, but the timing is due to the general chaos in the Middle East, the vacuum of power left by US withdrawal and very limited action & support to local allies, as well as the divisions between Western allies. European states for instance are working closely with Iran and even creating financial instruments to circumvent US sanctions, so there is no solid coalition to fully oppose Iran’s revolutionary plans.
If one looks at the text of the measure that has put this tax in place, it is much more than just about money from families and rich or poor individuals; it is also bout allocating lands and natural resources towards the “Hashemites” – read the Iranian project which seeks to gain control of these resources to support the much broader military plan, since money is fungible. Yemen is to be colonized just like the exploited African resources that serve the purposes of funding expansionism and governance.
Ultimately, of course, the whole project is corrupt, and fully benefits only a very small number of corrupt functionaries, while most countries under Iranian puppet control are either nearly failed states or verging on the brink of complete insolvency. None of the Iranian puppet governments are capable of good governance and no territory where Iran has gotten involved has flourished or gotten better. Iran is not bringing with itself a new Persian Renaissance of culture; on the contrary, like ISIS, Iran has been imposing strict fundamentalist interpretation of laws and punishing people for engaging in secular culture, including floggings for imbibing alcohol and similar punishments for the types of music that displeases the regime or is deemed not sufficiently religious. There is no evidence that Iran particularly cares about the devastation it brings to the new territories as long as it can amass the resources towards spreading its influence elsewhere and so long as the religious nomenclature and its dependents profit from the colonized wealth. The details of effective administration are lost upon this generation of the regime apparatchiks and their proxies.
Still, the way this tax is presented – while in reality only being a first concrete step Iran will use to build an entire system around the world – it is an issue of debate, and is covered as a “neutral” matter in the Western press, which merely summarizes what each side of the debate says about the other, thus normalizing this idea. It is a first concrete step that Iran is taking through the Houthis to formalize and put in place as a foundation for creating a colonial system entirely dependent on Tehran, and building up and enforcing the idea of Hashemites as a superior tribe/race, with control over everyone less as of lesser importance, and entitled to special power and wealth grabs and other privileges. Iran, then, is seeking to normalize this concept and slowly, systematically, to rebuild all of the Middle East in its own image and the image of this supranational Empire or Caliphate ruled by Hashemites (in reality, Persians or their controlled puppets) that it has envisioned.
Regardless of how one views the situation – whether one believes that Iran’s sprawling presence was made possibly the US withdrawal from the region, or whether, on the contrary, one believes that the United States was forced out of the region by Iran’s aggressive investment into these bellicose proxies which made a prolonged presence unsustainable, it is important to realize that HOuthis are ultimately a global threat, having threatened other countries in the region, and having aggressively threatened the United States as well. Therefore, the Yemenis and the Arab Colaition must write op-eds to Western media, must appear on Western TV, must communicate to the rest of the world the true nature of what is going on, the context of Iran’s geopolitical strategy, and the fact that the Houthis will soon become a global strike force like IRGC, Hezbullah, or the many other proxies around the world being trained to be combat ready anytime anywhere.
Dr. WEsam mentioned that the One Fifth Law, which is to be issued, considers the Hashemites above citizenship, superior to others rather than equal, and constitutes evidence of the lack of peaceful intention, and likelihood of the depletion of Yemen in an endless and open-ended war and hostilities.
“The Houthi document considers the Hashemites an Nazi Aryan ethnicity who has a divine right to sacrifice us, starve us, and rob our money.
Thus, the Houthis declare openly and unequivocally that the Hashemites occupy the land of Yemen and are not among its sons.
Dr. Wesam also talked about looting and levying by the Houthi militia, such as blackmailing merchants, looting the central bank, imposing royalties on owners of rugs and vehicles whose daily income is less than $ 5, and indicated the theft of international aid, and touched on militia ways to plunder money from the poor, including the war effort and the seizure of state property such as Oil and telecommunications companies such as Yemen Mobile and Tel Yemen, non-payment of salaries, as well as managing the black market, igniting crises, withdrawing the new currency from the market and replacing it with the damaged currency in the process of laundering large funds. She mentioned how they kill and arrest those who refuse to collect tax by the Houthi militia.
Ben Minick, a former military officer and a journalist specializing in the Middle East, disagreed with the idea that US withdrew from the Middle East giving an opening to Iran, and instead commented that it was the other way around, that Iran’s aggression made it impossible for the US military to operate effectively in the region.
It is Iran that trained and armed the militias and bears full responsibility for the crimes caused by these militias. My family and I were one of those who were exposed to these dangers by the Iranian regime. Ben said, adding: Iran uses the Houthis and exploits them for its interests in the region. This goes back decades; the attack on USS Cole is just one example of how Iran’s involvement in the region created instability and tension long before the coup by the Houthis.
The real problem is that the West does not care about this idea because the Western media does not explain the details related to the Iranian role about what is happening in Yemen, the nature of the militia coup and political circumstances. Rather, it has become commonplace in Western public opinion now that Yemen is the Houthis.
I will work in the future to prepare something specifically on this issue, and I will share it with you. What is happening now in Yemen is an extension of what happened in the past decades with other armed groups in the region. Iran has militias and armed groups such as the Houthis all over the world. They all operate the same way; Iran promises them various goods, bribes them, and deceives them into believing that they will have power and control over their own territories; in reality, all these proxies are just minions carrying out Iran’s bidding and hold no independent power of their own at all.
At the conclusion of the event, Dr. Wesam wrapped up with the following comment:
Let me summarize the important theses that were presented in the symposium and the interventions that were presented:
First: The concept of the khums tax is a concept that entrenches racism and class, and it is the concepts that have risen up against the whole world, just as the Houthi theory is based on ethnic selection in a concept similar to the Nazism that the whole world forbids and must take the same position on the Houthi.
Second: There are no longer those who say that he has the divine right in anything, not in government or the king. There are other concepts around which the authority and legitimacy of government revolve and the distribution of funds and taxes according to the concepts of the modern state and the law and the constitution. Logo, religious garment or any other reference,
Third: This decision on the implementation of the khums tax not only destroys the concept of the state, which they have effectively destroyed since their fateful coup, but they also strike the foundations of equal citizenship and undermine the social fabric.
Fourth :: The activists and researchers at the symposium condemned what they called the smooth face of the coup, and they are the human rights claimants of neutrality who give the Houthis justifications and excuses for their racism under the concept of positive discrimination, because this group was the ones who were controlling the Yemenis and those who practiced their racism throughout the ages, so what is justified that they were persecuted is unacceptable .
Fifth: As Prof. Irina pointed out, this decision of the five and what it contained included a signal that it is granted to the war effort of the Mujahideen according to their Hashemite lineage raises concern because it not only threatens Yemeni security but the region and the world, it allows the granting of these funds to global terrorism such as Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and ISIS its leadership al-Baghdadi and his successor Abahammad al-Hashemi al-Qurashi all of them Hashimion also, and it is possible to support armed factions in Africa and South America and in Syria and Iraq.
At the end of the symposium, Dr. Wesam mentioned what we had previously pledged during the previous cartoon exhibition of commitment to displaying a caricature drawing expressing the subject, and a cartoon by Osama Talib was displayed.