Yemeni civil war survey – yep, nobody knows what’s going on

Yemeni President Abd Mansur Rabbuh Hadi. Picture courtesy of Al Jazeera.

So after my last successful survey to find out how much random people on the Internet knew about the Syrian civil war, and most everyone did really well, I thought I’d make something a bit tougher. The questions are all basic knowledge about the Yemeni civil war, but the war has gotten almost no coverage compared to the Syrian one, so I anticipated everyone doing really poorly. Well, that happened.

I also got a lot less responses, probably because people didn’t want to answer questions they know nothing about. I can understand the sentiment.

If you want to know a basic overview of the war, you can find my blog post summing up the background here.


The first question I asked was just a confidence gauge. And half of the respondents didn’t even know there was a war going on. Yikes. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of the survey.


For the second question, I asked who the Houthis are, the rebels and opposition to the Yemeni government. And it seems most people who don’t know what’s going on just chose the one that sounded right, and since terrorists are always in the news, they chose the answer that it is a Sunni terrorist group in Northern Yemen. The Houthis are not Sunni, nor are they in Northern Yemen, and they are technically not a terrorist group. But the other plurality chose the correct answer, that they are a paramilitary group.


Yeah, so the correct answer is Sana’a, and it just looks like most people just picked almost randomly, or chose the ones that sound most ‘Arabic’. Al Hudaydah is the fourth largest city in Yemen. The two who know a something about the war probably chose Sana’a.


Amazingly, most everyone got this question right. Perhaps its because they associate Saudi Arabia with intervention in foreign countries? It’s difficult to say why, but 83% of participants chose the right country.


And a lot of people got this one right, too. This one I can understand more – its somewhat common knowledge that Iran has been funding Shi’a terrorist groups like Hezbollah for a while.


So this one is an even split, if you remove the two participants who know about the war somewhat, which tells me that my other two answers are bad. Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is the president of Yemen.


And alas, as I feared, most people have basically no knowledge of the Yemeni Civil War. News outlets really need to work on that, as most of the participants in this survey came from my facebook, which overrepresents the highly educated. So if I asked these questions to a random sample of Americans on the street, the results would probably be much worse.


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