AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: A former US ambassador to Yemen and veteran analyst has urged the Biden administration to rebrand the Houthi militia as a terrorist organization for resisting peace efforts to end the war and organizing attacks on neighboring countries.
Writing for the US platform War on the Rocks on Tuesday, Gerald Feierstein said the Biden administration should consider redesignating the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization, as it is the only option available to pressure the Houthis to quit. they stop hostilities on the ground and comply. with peace initiatives.
The former ambassador, who until now had opposed the proposed designation, added: “But, in the absence of other viable options to pressure the Houthis to abandon their military campaign and seek a peaceful political outcome to the war, it would be unwise not to consider the possible use of a terrorist designation as a tool in America’s kit.
The senior vice president and senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. was among 100 former U.S. diplomats and military officials who signed a letter in 2020 to then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opposing adding the Houthis to the terrorism list.
Feierstein also opposed the designation in a March 2020 interview with Arab News, arguing that the militia should be treated and “defeated as an anti-Yemeni movement.”
But after an upsurge in fighting over the past year and new Houthi missile attacks on neighboring countries, Feierstein argued the United States had no choice but to reclassify the militia.
“While the designation still would not have tangible and immediate effects on the Houthi leadership, it would nevertheless send a powerful and symbolic message that would delegitimize the Houthi movement as a participant in Yemen’s political future,” he said. he said, adding, “The past year has demonstrated that the Houthis will not return to the negotiating table until they accept that there is no alternative to a political resolution.
Feierstein is among many experts and Yemeni government officials who have warned of the tolerance of the powerful and radical Iran-backed Houthi movement. The militia’s arsenal of advanced ballistic missiles and long-range drones are being used to kill Yemeni civilians and target neighboring countries, analysts have warned.
“As a member of Iran’s ‘axis of resistance’, the Houthis’ unchallenged control over Yemen would pose an enduring challenge not only to the well-being of the Yemeni people, but also to the vital interests of the United States. United, including stability in the Arabian Peninsula, freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and Bab Al-Mandeb, and even Israeli security as the Houthis expand their missile and drone capabilities to reach southern Israel. Israel,” Feierstein said.
To address possible repercussions of the Houthis designation, the United States should speak with international aid organizations operating in Yemen, international monetary institutes, businesses, and other parties that may be affected by the decision. , added Feierstein.
“If the administration decides to pursue the option, it should discuss the terms of the designation with international humanitarian organizations, banks, commercial enterprises and others who may be affected by it to ensure that ‘It’s designed to minimize unintended consequences,’ he said. noted.
The former US ambassador came as the Houthis demanded on Wednesday that the Arab coalition end military operations and “blockade and aggression” so that peace talks can begin.
Responding to a call from the UN envoy to Yemen for all factions in Yemen to accept UN-brokered peace efforts, Hussein Al-Azi, a Houthi official, said the Arab coalition should lift restrictions on airports and seaports and stop airstrikes on Houthi territory.
“Yes, addressing the humanitarian and economic aspect represents the only gateway to serious and real peace in Yemen,” Al-Azi said on Twitter.
Addressing the UN Security Council on Tuesday evening, special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said he was working on a plan to reinvigorate peace efforts with the aim of reaching a political settlement in the country. Yemen that would respond to the interests and concerns of the warring parties in the country.
“I count on the support of this Council to encourage all actors to participate constructively without delay. This is a real opportunity for the Yemeni parties to shift gears and chart a peaceful path,” he said.