5-year-old Lian was burnt to death by the Houthis, will the world care?
Who, apart from heartless terrorists, would deliberately fire a missile at a gas station and kill at least 17 people? Who, apart from a group of savages who adhere to an evil ideology, would then fire another missile at an ambulance that came to rescue any survivors?
While those of us who follow news and read history can certainly identify a number of radical groups who would commit such atrocious crimes, I am speechless at those who fail to condemn these crimes or call them out for what they are: Unjustifiable, barbaric acts of utter terror.
Perhaps some fail to do so because they don’t identify with the victims. Or perhaps some don’t feel that what happens in a country such as Yemen — where, on Saturday night, Houthi terrorists committed the atrocities I have just described— impacts the rest of the world in any way.
I am speechless at those who fail to condemn these crimes or call them out for what they are: Unjustifiable, barbaric acts of utter terror.
Among the victims on Saturday was Lian Taher Mohammed, 5, an innocent child who suffered two misfortunes in her extremely short life. The first was that she was not lucky enough to have been living in a safer country, such as the US, Japan or France. The other was that she was born not long after the Iran-backed Houthis overthrew her country’s legitimate government and started a savage, hellish war that they now refuse to end. We cannot know what her life would have been like had she survived, but it certainly would not have been easy under the Houthis. They do not hesitate to force children into service as soldiers, they treat women as second-class citizens (just ask abducted model Entesar Al-Hammadi), and their official slogan advocates death for all Jews and all Americans.
This is not the first such barbarity that these Houthi monsters have committed, nor is it the first time the world has failed to hold them to the most basic human — and humanitarian — standards. Indeed, at the beginning of this year, it seemed as if they were rewarded for their savagery. Citing logistical reasons to do with distributing aid in Yemen, the Biden administration reversed a Trump-era decision to designate the Houthis as a terrorist group (one can only wonder why the same logic did not apply this month in Gaza, where the US allowed aid to enter without delisting Hamas as a terrorist organization).
Shortly after the Houthis were removed from the terror list they attacked Abha civilian airport in Saudi Arabia. They have continued to target Saudi civilian areas with missiles and drones, most recently Khamis Mushayt early on Sunday. In a chilling precursor of Saturday’s attack on Marib, in March the Houthis burned more than 40 Ethiopian refugees alive in a detention center in Sanaa. That atrocity was documented by human rights groups, but — incredibly and shockingly — drew neither comment nor condemnation. Apparently the refugees’ mistake was to believe that all Black Lives Matter, not just those of black Americans killed by white police.
Unless Lenderking’s comments are accompanied by international pressure, Houthis will continue their crimes against humanity and civilians in Yemen as well as in Saudi Arabia.
At last, however, a glimmer of hope may be emerging after this litany of Houthi savagery. It does seem that those who doubt their true nature or think the Houthis respond to goodwill gestures are finally coming to their senses.
Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy, last week accused the Houthis of failing to try to reach a solution to the conflict, and said they bore the major responsibility for refusing to engage meaningfully in a ceasefire.
This is of course welcome, but unless it is accompanied by international pressure, the Houthis will continue their crimes against humanity and civilians in their own country as well as in Saudi Arabia.
As for Lian, we at Arab News chose not to publish the horrific image of her tiny, burnt corpse. In her memory, we are publishing her photo as she would have liked to be remembered: An innocent, smiling child. Unlike the Houthis and their Iranian puppeteers, we are not in the business of glorifying death.
May you rest in peace, little Lian.
• Faisal J. Abbas is editor in chief of Arab News Twitter: @FaisalJAbbas