AL-MUKALLA: US President Joe Biden has said his administration is considering re-designating Yemen’s Houthi militia as an international terrorist organization following the group’s drone and missile attacks on the UAE.
His comment at a news conference came shortly after the Emirati Embassy said on Twitter that UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba urged the Biden administration to restore the designation in response to Monday’s strikes on Abu Dhabi airport and a fuel depot.
Asked if he supported returning the Iran-backed Houthis to the US list of foreign terrorist organizations, from which they were removed nearly a year ago, Biden replied, “The answer is, it’s under consideration.”
But he conceded that “it’s going to be very difficult” to end the conflict.
Biden’s comment reflected the lack of progress toward ending the war since he launched an initiative shortly after taking office a year ago to bolster UN efforts to restart peace talks.
The UAE welcomed Biden’s comment, with the Emirati Embassy writing on Twitter: “Case is clear — launching ballistic and cruise missiles against civilian targets, sustaining aggression, diverting aid to Yemeni people.”
Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber said on Twitter on Thursday that the UN and the global community must not show leniency and must instead hold the Houthi movement accountable because “it encourages other terrorist organizations to act similarly.”
Yemeni government officials and analysts on Thursday also welcomed Biden’s stance.
Najeeb Ghallab, an undersecretary at the Information Ministry, told Arab News that the US administration has realized that the delisting of the Houthi movement as a terrorist group has neither led to activating diplomatic efforts to end the war nor contributed to alleviating the humanitarian crisis.
“The Houthis have foiled practically all diplomatic efforts and aggravated the humanitarian crisis. It appeared to the Americans that the Houthis are exploiting the humanitarian crisis to prolong the war,” Ghallab said, adding that the Houthi missile, drone and ground attacks inside and outside Yemen have increased by 400 percent since early last year when Biden’s administration removed the Houthis from the terror list.
In 2021, the Houthis renewed a military offensive to seize control of the oil-rich city of Marib that has claimed the lives of thousands of people and displaced thousands of families.
“The designation would strike the Iran-allied wing within the movement and would push them into reviewing their decisions. If the Americans seek to rescue Yemen and protect regional and international security, they should designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization,” Ghallab said.
The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen vowed on Thursday to hunt down the Houthi leaders responsible for masterminding deadly strikes in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The coalition announced launching a large-scale military operation in Yemen to neutralize the military capabilities of the Houthis, pledging to track down Houthi leaders who staged missile and drone strikes inside and outside Yemen.
“We are tracking terrorist leaders responsible for targeting civilians,” the coalition said, adding that it launched 21 airstrikes in the province of Marib that killed 60 Houthis during the past 24 hours.
The coalition has stepped up airstrikes against Houthi military targets across Yemen, hitting military facilities in Sanaa and Dhamar and destroying weapons depots in the western city of Hodeidah during the past 24 hours.
Residents in Houthi-held Sanaa on Wednesday night reported hearing thunderous explosions as the coalition’s warplanes targeted military camps and other military facilities inside and on the capital’s northern outskirts.
The coalition’s warplanes also struck Houthi military reinforcements and gatherings in Marib, enabling government troops to push back the militia’s attacks.
Fighting intensified on key battlefields in Marib as the Houthis renewed attacks on government troops.
Local officials and media reports said that the Houthis attacked government troops in areas south of Marib in a bid to seize back strategic mountains from loyalists and break a siege on their forces on the Al-Balaq Al-Sharqi mountain range.
With the help of coalition warplanes, government troops repelled the Houthi attacks after killing and wounding dozens of them.
The Giants Brigades also foiled Houthi counterattacks on the outskirts of Hareb town, south of Marib.
In the northern province of Saada, the Houthi movement’s heartland, Yemen’s Defense Ministry on Thursday announced expelling the Houthis from a number of locations in Al-Safra district, west of Saada, shortly after launching an attack to liberate new areas in the province.
Local media reports said on Thursday that the death toll from the Houthi missile attack on a fuel station in an area between Marib and Shabwa rose to four after the death of two critically wounded civilians.
On Wednesday, a missile fired by the Houthis landed at a fuel station, east of Hareb, triggering an explosion that killed two people and critically wounded several others. Another missile launched by the Houthis ripped through a school on Wednesday in the southern city of Taiz, killing a student and wounding five more.