The US administration’s announcement, through its Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, designating the Iranian-backed Houthi militia as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” and placing three of its top leaders on a global terrorist list, is the culmination of efforts made by the United States to limit Iranian influence and subversive policies in the region under the policies of maximum pressure and fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and confrontation of terrorist groups and extremist ideologies.
The move to designate the Houthis as a terrorist group, although late, is a major strategic step in the right direction toward ending the Yemeni crisis and its worsening human suffering, and it responds to the calls made by millions of Yemenis who, during the past several months, launched popular, political and media campaigns in which they raised their demand in “one voice – the Houthi is a terrorist group.”
Moreover, this historic step, which has received wide national and regional welcome, puts the Houthi militia in its rightful place alongside the terrorist organizations ISIS and al-Qaida after it shed Yemeni blood and committed crimes and violations against humanity; undermined security and stability in Yemen and the region; and attacked energy sources and merchant ships in international waters, causing the greatest human tragedy in history.
This move is a victory for hundreds of thousands of victims of Houthis crimes and violations committed since the coup against the state, and for the national consensus seen in the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference held in 2013, which was organized under international sponsorship and in which the various political and social components and spectrums, including the Houthis, participated. The designation will further guarantee that the killers and criminals will not go unpunished.
Over the past years, the Houthi militia has undermined efforts to resolve the crisis, taking advantage of the international concern to solve the Yemeni crisis by peaceful means to maneuver and gain time to strengthen its military position and mobilize more insurgents to its battle fronts, as well as smuggle advanced Iranian weapons that it used in the military escalation and the development of its terrorist attacks on civilian targets in the liberated areas, in neighboring Saudi Arabia, and in international shipping lanes.
The Houthi militia also took advantage of the humanitarian tragedy that Yemen is going through due to its rebellion and coup against the state to put pressure on the international community to achieve political and financial gains. For six years it practiced types of extortion on international organizations and stole food from the mouths of the hungry, according to the World Food Organization, without concern for the suffering of Yemenis.
The Houthi militia has continued to promote its terrorist slogans; broadcast its extremist ideological rhetoric; spread the culture of violence, death and hatred; and raise a generation of terrorists. The Houthis openly revealed its direct association and full affiliation with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Wilayat al-Faqih regime in Iran, and its endeavors to spread its sectarian rituals among the Yemenis, and implement its destructive policies in the region.
Designating the Houthi militia as a terrorist organization will have a great impact on reducing the crimes of the Houthi militia against civilians, stopping its terrorist activities that target regional security and international interests in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab, and limiting the transfer and smuggling of advanced weapons and Iranian experts to the militia; and to push them to submit to the peace led by the United Nations based on the three mechanisms to reach a comprehensive political solution that ends the crisis and puts an end to the worsening human suffering of millions of Yemenis in their areas of control.
In addition, this designation is an important step that is integrated with efforts to combat terrorism, dry up its intellectual and financial sources, and strengthen international efforts to confront terrorist activities aimed at destabilizing security and stability in the world.
Regarding what some claim about the consequences of this step on the humanitarian side, there is a big difference between these allegations and the reality in Yemen. The Houthi militia controls a specific part of Yemen, and the legitimate government has internal channels and capabilities, and it will follow all possible procedures to enable aid and basic materials to reach all Yemenis.
Rather, this designation will accelerate the reforming of the financial and banking system so that the Yemeni state regains control over all its branches in a manner consistent with international laws and regulations while combating terrorism, and in a way that serves Yemenis.
In addition, the Yemeni government will coordinate with international organizations and relief agencies to facilitate the performance of these organizations and achieve common goals, ensuring that food aid reaches the beneficiaries and that it is not subject to looting or exploitation and directing it to the war effort to kill Yemenis as the Houthi militia does.
Whoever expects a humanitarian catastrophe in the areas under Houthi control after designating the militia as a terrorist group should review history and delve into what happened in other areas. Actually, the delayed designation is what aggravated the human tragedy in Yemen, and as soon as supplies to the Houthis are cut off and their authority undermined, we will begin the journey of social recovery and restoring the state.
The Yemenis, who went out in spontaneous gatherings in various governorates and organized media campaigns on the air and on social media, were able to convey their message to the world in the face of Houthi terrorism, which has escalated dangerously and noticeably since the arrival of the Iranian Quds Force officer Hassan Erlo to the hijacked capital Sanaa, and this terrorism reached its climax with the attack on the Yemeni cabinet members and others at Aden International Airport.
The international community, namely the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the relevant international organizations, is required today more than ever to support the efforts of the Yemeni government and people in the battle to restore the state and bring down the Houthi coup, as it is the spearhead for the Iranian expansionist project and its plans to spread chaos and terrorism in the region.
The international community should proceed with similar steps to those taken by the US administration to designate the Houthi militia as a terrorist organization and place its leaders on the international terrorist lists; intensify mutual cooperation with the legitimate government to ensure the elimination of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations; commit to their legal and moral responsibilities to protect human rights and stop terrorist activities; maintain regional and international peace and security; and implement international resolutions related to the Yemeni crisis, foremost of which is UN Security Council Resolution 2216.