This essay argues that the horrific war in Yemen (2015–present) waged by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against the Houthis who control the northern part of the country is not really a Sunni-Schi’a conflict or a proxy war against Iran or a replay of the Cold War—all of which have been put forward to explain it—but rather is better understood as the actions of belligerent imperialist powers located in the Arabian Peninsula, acting in their own right (rather than as puppets of Western powers). Such an explanation, however, flies in the face of what we have understood imperialism to be historically. This essay looks at two understandings of imperialism, one coming out of Marxist theory and another out of a Foucauldian understanding of power as developed by Hardt and Negri in their book Empire (2000), and then goes on to show that both are helpful, though in different ways, in explaining the Yemen war as an imperialist intervention.

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