The Biden administration must designate the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Until recently, a Yemeni terror organization has managed to fly beneath the radar of Western public awareness. It’s formally named “Ansar Allah,” or the Partisans of God, but this Iranian-backed rebel group is better known in the media as the Houthis, after leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi.
Ansar Allah is fighting a civil war and controls 60 percent of Yemen.
In the waning days of his term, President Donald Trump added Ansar Allah to the State Department’s list of Foreign Terror Organizations because of the group’s missile attacks on a Saudi airport and oil facility. Among other actions, the designation froze the transfer of US-related assets to Ansar Allah and criminalized providing it with resources or support.
Barely one month later, President Joe Biden removed that label. Officials said the designation made it impossible for the aid groups to provide assistance to Yemen, where millions of people in Houthi-held areas face the twin threats of famine and COVID.
The White House also ended U.S. support for offensive operations against the Houthis by a Saudi-led coalition of forces. The bulk of the forces are Saudi, but participants include the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, and Senegal.
U.S. support for this coalition began, notably, during Barack Obama’s presidency.
It’s been almost a year since the Houthis were delisted, and it has become harder for humanitarian assistance to reach civilians. Emboldened by Biden’s move, the Houthis blocked emergency food and medicine from reaching Yemen’s Abdiya district, where they are trying to capture the government-held city of Marib. On numerous occasions, the Houthis hijacked aid convoys, stealing food and medicine.
The Houthis claim their recent attack on the UAE petrochemical facility — which killed three — was because of the Emirates’ involvement in the Saudi coalition. But it cannot be ignored that the attack comes at a time when the UAE and Israel are deepening their ties and during a delicate moment for the Iranian nuclear talks.
Also, the number of missile attacks on Saudi Arabia in 2021 doubled over the previous year.
The laundry list of Ansar Allah terrorism includes public executions, recruiting children to die in battle, extorting humanitarian aid groups, deliberately destroying aid warehouses and attacks on ships in the Red Sea. Its presence along the strategic Strait of Bab al-Mandeb, at the entrance to the Red Sea, jeopardizes international shipping and American interests.
Other Iranian proxies with well-deserved U.S. terror designations include Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and various Iraqi militias. There is no doubt that Ansar Allah belongs on that list too.
Demand that the U.S. re-designate the Houthi rebels as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Contact President Joe Biden through the White House web site.
Contact Secretary of State Antony Blinken through the State Department web site.