Yemen's Houthi rebels turn to poetry in battle for people's hearts

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, whose austere interpretation of Islam outlaws most forms of music, are increasingly turning to traditional poetry to woo support in a “soft war” against the Saudi-backed government. Short-form poems, known as zawamil, are a much-loved part of Yemen’s tribal heritage, played or performed at weddings and other social occasions. In the hands of the Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa and most of the north, they have become a vehicle for martial music and propaganda against the government’s Gulf Arab and Western supporters. Zawamil are popular across Yemen – in the g…

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