Is there anybody out there?
According to Middle Eastern analysts the Houthis—a Yemeni movement fighting its oppressive regime—are the region’s most effective military entity in the fight against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In January 2015, following domestic political turmoil, the Yemeni president fled from the Houthis to Saudi Arabia. Two months later, a Saudi-led coalition launched a military operation to defeat the Houthis and restore the internationally recognized Yemeni president—an operation that is still ongoing. Instead of viewing the Houthis as potential allies against AQAP—the US’ greatest enemy in its War on Terror—the US declared its support to the Saudi-led coalition without providing the public with any explanation concerning its foreign policy. In doing so, the US formed an unintended assistance to AQAP against their new common enemy: the Houthis. How does the US legitimize this seemingly inconsistent foreign policy? The short answer would be ‘national interest’. This research builds on Jutta Weldes’ poststructuralist understanding of the concept, which states that national interest is a social construct that emerges out of an actor’s representation. Therefore, revealing the meaning attributed to the Houthis should explain how attacking the Houthis fits US national interest. A discourse analysis was conducted to disentangle the US narrative surrounding the Houthis. It appears that the US legitimizes its foreign policy by presenting the Houthis as an indirect threat to its survival, by presenting the movement as the cause of Yemen’s instability, allowing AQAP to grow. This research asserts that by drawing on specific linguistic elements when describing the Houthis, and omitting the US’ role in creating the chaos, the Houthis’ contribution is presented as a self-evident threat instead of a social construct, which creates the perception that US interference is appropriate as it aims to eliminate the threat. Keywords: Yemen,
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