International community faces mounting pressure to declare Houthis to be terrorists

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AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s internationally recognized government has backed Saudi Arabia’s request for the international community to label the Iran-backed Houthi movement as a terrorist organization and punish it for delaying peace efforts.

According to the administration, since the Houthis took over the country by force in late2014, they have rejected all efforts to resolve the conflict, including a proposal provided by Saudi Arabia last year.

This month, the group declined to renew a six-month-old truce mediated by the UN. They have planted thousands of landmines, brutally suppressed populations of areas under their control, and kidnapped hundreds of Yemenis, including women.

“In addition to the millions of dead, maimed, and displaced people, the Houthi militias have caused the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, as well as war crimes and heinous human rights violations.” They should be labeled as terrorist organizations as soon as possible,” the Yemeni government said in a statement issued by SABA, the official Yemen News Agency.

On Tuesday, the Saudi Cabinet reaffirmed its support for the international community’s efforts to bring peace to Yemen and asked the world to classify the Houthis as a terrorist group and take action to cut off their financing sources.

In Yemen, government officials and others who support the call for a terrorist designation argue that the international community should be more aware than ever of the true nature of the group as a result of their refusal to renew the truce, having exhausted all other options in efforts to persuade the Houthis to embrace peace.

According to them, the only thing keeping the world from labeling the Houthis as terrorists is the potential impact on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the distribution of aid.

According to Najeeb Ghallab, an undersecretary in Yemen’s Information Ministry, the international community, particularly the UN, should aim to use the terrorist designation to compel the Houthis to actively engage in and comply with efforts to end the conflict.

“To persuade the Houthis to accept peace, the international community must apply enormous pressure— and designation will be a great tool for that,” he said.

Ghallab stated that as long as the Houthis refuse to accept peace initiatives and cooperate to resolve the conflict, Yemen’s humanitarian crisis would worsen.

“Weakening and pressuring this movement to embrace peace will assist to alleviate Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, which the Houthis exploit and exacerbate,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni government has joined other countries in demanding the Houthis to release Yemeni employees of the US embassy and the United Nations who were seized in Sanaa a year ago.

Yemen’s Information Minister, Muammar Al-Eryani, claimed the kidnappings prove the Houthis are “terrorists” who flout diplomatic laws and norms prohibiting the targeting of such employees.

“Raiding foreign embassies, detaining diplomatic mission staff, and using them as tools for blackmail are entirely foreign terrorist activities that do not reflect the Yemeni people, who value brothers and friends,” he stated.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked for the release of 12 US and UN employees detained at the US embassy in Sanaa on Wednesday, while condemning the Houthis’ conduct.

“I call on the Houthis to release and return these Yemeni individuals to their families as a demonstration of their commitment to peace for the people of Yemen and desire to participate in a future government that respects the rule of law,” he added.

In a message shared on Twitter, the EU mission in Yemen made a similar request: “The EU reiterates its appeal on the Houthis to free all arrested US Embassy and UN staff.” Their release would send a significant message of peace commitment.”

Source: Arab News

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