The Houthi militia recently targeted petroleum tanks and Saudi Aramco facilities in Riyadh and Dhahran and attacked civilian facilities elsewhere in Saudi Arabia.
Despite the failure of the attacks, they reaffirmed the subordination of this terrorist militia to Iran. The evidence is that what this militia did coincided with the US-European understandings about the Iranian nuclear program. Some of the influential politicians in President Joe Biden’s administration were involved in drafting the agreement during Barack Obama’s term, most notably Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, and Wendy Sherman, deputy secretary of state, both of whom described Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran as “catastrophic.”
The actions of the Biden administration are incomprehensible, as it said that the recent Houthi attacks on the Kingdom were unacceptable and dangerous, and before that it targeted facilities in Syria. It was said that these facilities belonged to an Iranian-backed militia.
On the other hand, the Biden administration removed the classification of the Houthis as a terrorist organization, imposed sanctions on its leaders, and has subsequently released $3 billion — which is part of the Iranian funds frozen in Iraq, Oman, and South Korea. It has been claimed that they will only be used for humanitarian and health purposes, but I rather doubt it.
It is not appropriate for the US or Europe to win Iran over through the Houthi issue. Europe wants to return to the Iranian market and to investments in Tehran, so the issue of nuclear weapons does not concern it much. The most important thing for Europeans is that the sanctions against Iran are lifted, the huge financial flows return to its banks and companies. Perhaps the circumstances of the pandemic have made this more urgent.
The idea of negotiating with terrorist groups appears to be out of every acceptable security balance.
Dr. Bader bin Saud
The idea of negotiating with terrorist groups appears to be out of every acceptable security balance. The Iranian-backed militias cannot accept the idea of the state, nor the way the state manages things. Examples include: Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, and, of course, the Houthis in Yemen.
The political balances resulted from Ali Abdullah Saleh’s alliance with the Houthis was the reason for the Houthi presence in Yemeni politics, otherwise the number of the Houthis in Saada does not exceed, at best, 100,000 out of 27 million Yemenis.
This figure does not include the new Houthis from the followers of the Sunni Shafi’i and the Zaidi schools of thought, which is closest to the Sunni school of thought in most of its practices. They joined the organization as mercenaries, their wages paid by the millions that regularly reaches Al-Houthi from Iran. Twelver Shiite thought was unknown in Yemen before the 1990s.
Iran is trying to change the sectarian structure in the Arab capitals it controls in a way that enables it to achieve its ambitions in the region. Every Arab will not accept using the weapon of demography and theology to consolidate the Persian occupation.
The Biden administration is supposed to employ the strategy of partnership with its historic allies, and adopt the policy of reconciliation in dealing with Middle Eastern issues. This is a balanced and thoughtful approach that Jimmy Carter inherited from Richard Nixon, adopting it in foreign policy issues.
• Dr. Bader bin Saud is a weekly columnist in both Al Riyadh and Okaz newspapers.