Echoes of a Scream: US Drones and Articulations of the Houthi Sarkha Slogan in Yemen

This chapter maps the evolutionary process of the Houthi sarkha (‘scream’) slogan, which roughly translates as “God is great. Death to America. Death to Israel. Damn the Jews. Victory to Islam.” The sarkha’s popularity, I argue, underlines the Houthis’ investment in aligning their movement with a growing public search for agency from implications of the US drone program in Yemen. Rather than simply reading the sarkha as a mere indicator of Iran’s influence on Houthis, this work presents the slogan as a local articulation of a consciousness that legitimizes violence as a necessary revolutionary means toward independence and sovereignty. The chapter concludes that although the sarkha may have failed in rallying Yemeni social and cultural politics behind its resistance implications, it nonetheless remains a strong identity marker of Houthis’ sociopolitical and religious community in northern Yemen, which continues vying for power at the cost of the country’s own stability, and ironically, sovereignty.

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To Cite: Mahdi, Waleed F. “Echoes of a Scream: US Drones and Articulations of the Houthi Sarkha Slogan in Yemen.” In Cultural Production and Social Movements After the Arab Spring: Nationalism, Politics and Transnational Identity, eds, Eid Mohamed and Ayman El Desouky. London: I. B. Tauris, pp. 205-221, 2021.