Arab bloc seeks ‘terrorist’ designation for Houthis

Published January 24, 2022
Emirati State Minister Khalifa Shaheen al-Marar (L) attends an extraordinary session of the Council of the Arab League States at the league headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo, to discuss the recent attacks against the UAE by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi group on Sunday. — AFP
Emirati State Minister Khalifa Shaheen al-Marar (L) attends an extraordinary session of the Council of the Arab League States at the league headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo, to discuss the recent attacks against the UAE by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi group on Sunday. — AFP

CAIRO: The Arab League on Sunday said Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels should be labelled as a “terrorist” group after they attacked the United Arab Emirates.

On January 17 the Houthis claimed a drone and missile attack that struck an oil facility and the airport in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, killing three people and wounding six.

It was the first deadly assault acknowledged by the UAE inside its borders and claimed by the Yemeni insurgents during a seven-year Saudi-led coalition campaign against the rebels.

The pan-Arab bloc, based in the Egyptian capital, said the Houthis should be designated “as a terrorist organisation” after the attack.

In a statement following an extraordinary meeting, it called the strikes “a flagrant violation of international law... and a real threat to vital civilian installations, energy supplies, and global economic stability,” as well as a threat to regional peace and security.

Former US president Donald Trump designated the Houthis as a terrorist movement but the administration of President Joe Biden removed the group in response to fears from aid groups responding to what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Biden’s administration has, however, sanctioned individual Houthi figures.

On Friday, the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the Houthi strikes on the UAE, whose UN ambassador denounced “these terrorist attacks.” The UAE is a non-permanent member of the Council.

The Emirates have had a major role in the Saudi-led coalition defending the internationally-recognised government of Yemen against the Huthis. Although it announced a troop withdrawal from Yemen in 2019, the UAE has remained involved by supporting and training forces there.

On Saturday the coalition denied carrying out an air strike on a prison in Yemen’s rebel-held north that aid groups said killed at least 70 people, including migrants, women and children.

The UN has estimated Yemen’s conflict would have killed 377,000 people by the end of 2021, both directly and indirectly through hunger and disease.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2022

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