Houthis terror escalates humanitarian crisis in Yemen, officials accuse militia group of stealing food
Last week, the US administration designated Yemen’s Houthi group as foreign terrorist organization (FTO). The move came after series of violent attacks, and blocking and stealing of humanitarian aid by the rebel group, backed by Iran. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington wanted to “deter further malign activity by the Iranian regime” through Houthis.
The designation, which would come in effect on January 19, a day before Trump officially exits US Presidential office, would make it difficult for Houthis to avail material or financial resources.Yemeni militia, formally known as Ansarallah, along with three of its top leaders, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Din al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya al Hakim, would bear the terrorist label and its legal consequences.
The move was on Trump’s agenda for long, given the Trump administration stern outlook towards Iran-backed extremist factions. Houthis, colloquially named so as after its founder who belonged to the Houthi tribe, captured Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, along with much of the country’s northwestern territory in late 2014 and early 2015. The group has been accused of ravaging Yemeni economy, political system and social structure with years of civil war. Besides, US undertook the move as Houthi deadly campaign was not only destabilising Yemen but also the Middle East. Pompeo said in his statement, “If Ansarallah did not behave like a terrorist organization, we would not designate it” as one.”
The US decision to classify Yemeni extremist group as terror outfit was commended by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). OIC Secretary-General Dr. Youssef Al-Othaimeen said: “This decision will support positive engagement with the efforts of the UN special envoy to Yemen to reach a political settlement that would end the conflict in Yemen, the terrorist operations in it and attacks against Saudi Arabia.“The decision is also an important step toward strengthening efforts to address terrorism and its funding at regional and international levels, where these militias, backed by regional entities, pose a real threat to international peace and security.”
The head of the World Food Program also blamed the Iran-backed militant group for stealing humanitarian aid and food sent by various international aid groups, triggering the humanitarian crisis in the country to catastrophic level.Though some aid groups and organisations urged the Trump Administration to reverse its decision of designating the Yemeni rebel group as a terrorist entity. They said that it would amplify the crisis, making millions to suffer from hunger and poverty as it would lead to famine in the war-torn country, where these sanctions would shrink the food imports.“We are struggling now without the designation; with the designation, it’s going to be catastrophic,” said WFP Chief David Beasley, who was nominated to his UN post by President Donald Trump. “It is literally going to be a death sentence to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of innocent people in Yemen.”
On the contrary, OIC’s Al-Othaimeen believed that the US decision was a significant step in global battle against terrorism and it would force Houthi leaders to enter peace talks.The OIC, which has been wary of dangers Houthis pose to regional and international security, said that the organization was committed to extend full support to UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, with an aim to achievea lasting political settlement for the Yemeni crisis, in accordance with the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, national dialogue and UN Security Council resolutions.