Al Houthis Yemen_2
Al Houthi rebels chant slogans during rally in Sanaa, Yemen, on August 22, 2020. Image Credit: AP

The United States government is about to finally take the overdue decision to designate the Iran-backed Al Houthi militia in Yemen as a terrorist organisation. According to the American magazine Foreign Policy, the plan to put the militia on the terror list has been decided despite the objection of the United Nations.

The Trump administration had been mulling this decision for some time, but it delayed to give the UN-sponsored talks a chance. However, the recent escalation of attacks by Al Houthis on Saudi Arabia’s civilian population and facilities in the southern border areas shows that neither the militia nor its masters in Tehran are the least interested in peace.

The UN has so far failed to produce any tangible results in the ongoing talks due to the failure of Al Houthis to honour their promises at the negotiation table. The deal in the handover of Al Hodeida port to UN supervisors, signed last year, has yet to be implemented by the group.

Iran, which had recently admitted its military support to the Al Houthis, who overthrew the legitimate government in Yemen in September 2014, seem to be intent on prolonging the conflict for political gains. By continuing the war into the new year, when Joe Biden officially takes over the reins of the White House, Tehran thinks it will have another bargaining chip in its arsenal as they go into what many expect to be new talks to renew American commitment to the nuclear deal, which the Trump administration exited in 2018.

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Therefore, Iran, through its Al Houthi proxy, has been intensifying the terror attacks on Saudi Arabia. Dozens of explosive-laden drones and ballistic missiles have been unleashed on the kingdom in November. While Riyadh and the Arab coalition has been exercising utmost restraint to help the UN continue its talks and allow critical humanitarian aid into the war-ravaged country, Al Houthis and their sponsors in Tehran, are hindering all international efforts to end the conflict.

One clear example of Iran’s efforts to sabotage any political settlement is the recent appointment of an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) official, Hassan Erlou, as its new ‘ambassador’ in Sana’a. Military experts suggest that he will serve as the new military adviser to the Al Houthi militia, hence the recent escalation of attacks on the kingdom.

The US move to designate Al Houthis as a terrorist organisation is the right one, and the UN must admit that its naïveté and continuing appeasement of the terrorist group have only prolonged the suffering of millions of impoverished Yemenis held hostage by Al Houthis to accommodate Iran’s regional designs.