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Yemen’s presidential council appeals to world to label Houthis terrorists

People lift rifles and placards as they chant during a Houthi rally in Sanaa on January 19, 2024. (AFP)
People lift rifles and placards as they chant during a Houthi rally in Sanaa on January 19, 2024. (AFP)
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22 Jan 2024 12:01:50 GMT9
22 Jan 2024 12:01:50 GMT9
  • Minister urges more pressure on militia to conform to peace obligations in line with global standards

Saeed Al-Batati

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s internationally recognized Presidential Leadership Council asked the world on Sunday to follow the US lead in labeling the Iran-backed Houthis as terrorists and impose stiffer penalties on the militia for jeopardizing international marine trade and perpetrating crimes in Yemen.

At a meeting in Riyadh, the council praised Washington’s decision to designate the Houthis as international terrorists, encouraged the rest of the world to follow suit, and praised the international community’s joint response to the Houthi Red Sea raids.

The council said in a statement it “welcomed the decision to designate the Houthi militias as a global terrorist organization and looks forward to additional sanctions against the rogue militias.”

It reiterated a request to the international community to strengthen the military capabilities of Yemen’s coast guard and offer protection from the Houthis and other terrorist groups, according to the statement carried by the official news agency.

The council warned that Houthi attacks in the Red Sea would result in the militarization of the crucial maritime route, raising shipping and insurance prices, and impeding the flow of critical supplies to the nation.

Yemen’s Information Minister, Muammar Al-Eryani, said that since the beginning of the Houthi military takeover, the government has pushed for the militia to be labeled as terrorists, both internally and globally, because of its human rights violations, as well as actions that undermine regional and international security.

The minister reiterated his plea to the world to declare the Houthis terrorists.

“We urge international allies and nations throughout the globe to follow the US government’s lead and engage in a concerted response to combat the operations of the Houthi militia.

“We also urge them to put further pressure on it to quit its terrorist tactics and conform to peace obligations in line with local, regional, and international standards,” Al-Eryani said on X.

The country’s National Defense Council, chaired by Rashad Al-Alimi, designated the Houthis as a terrorist group in October 2022, shortly after the militia launched missile and drone attacks on oil terminals in the southern provinces of Hadramout and Shabwa, bringing the country’s oil exports to a halt.

In recent weeks, the Houthis have targeted commercial and naval ships in the Red Sea with drones and ballistic missiles. The group also seized a commercial vessel in November.

The Houthis claim they want Israel to stop bombing Gaza and relieve the blockade on the enclave.

To pressure the Houthis to end their attacks, the US and UK have launched dozens of strikes against military targets in militia-controlled areas of Yemen.

On Saturday, the US Central Command said that US forces destroyed a Houthi anti-ship missile before it was launched in the Gulf of Aden.

Humanitarian groups have long resisted the labeling of Houthi terrorists, fearing it would disrupt the flow of aid through militia-controlled ports, which receive over 70 percent of essential supplies.

However, Yemeni activists who support the designation view it as just another way to punish the Houthis for human rights violations, as well as a means of pressuring the group to accept peace talks to end the war.

“Reclassifying the Houthi group as a terrorist organization is a triumph for the principles of responsibility, fairness, and justice as well as for the blood of innocent victims,” Yemeni human rights activist Riyadh Al-Dubae said on X.

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