KT Edit: Arab military pact against terror will stop Houthis

The second attack on the UAE makes calls to redesignate the Houthis as a terror group more urgent

Published: Mon 24 Jan 2022, 11:00 PM

Stung by reverses in the oil-rich province of Shabwah, and after reducing Yemen to rubble with their war-mongering and sectarian politics, the Houthis are attempting to expand the scope of the conflict. The plan is diabolic in nature. The objective: to get more regional players involved, where they are forced to take sides.

This, the Houthis hope would divert attention from their abject failure to bring normalcy to the Arab world’s most impoverished country. Starved of ideas for governance, the Houthis have resorted to violence away from their shores with rockets and drones. The proxy militia appears to be branching out on their own. Targeting the UAE on two occasions, they are asking for retaliation, and a higher level of confrontation, which they will get in due course, in a way they have never experienced before.

But what have they achieved in these seven years of strife that has made Yemen ungovernable? First, they dislodged an elected government; second, they unleashed a sectarian agenda; third, they reneged on their commitments to peace in a bid to gain concessions from the GCC and Arab coalition. When nothing worked, they targeted civilians and installations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

It is easy for the limited conflict in Yemen to turn into a full-blown war as we mentioned earlier. Such a scenario could suck in other players and powers, which is precisely what the Houthis want. Here, it is important for the United States to take the lead to make these terrorists pay. Any delay in redesignating the group as terrorists will make the Houthis bolder as they target civilians living thousands of miles away.

The second attack on the UAE makes calls to redesignate the Houthis as a terror group more urgent. The Biden administration, however, has succumbed to the liberal agenda in the Democratic Party that see such groups as resistance movements. They may be Yemeni but are certainly not freedom fighters, rebels or militants. They are terrorists, plain and simple. So far, the White House has made the right noises but avoided punitive measures against the group.

The Houthis see this dithering and delay as weakness. An unreliable superpower who will cut and run despite still having much leverage in the region with thousands of troops and naval bases massed here. The US remains reluctant in formulating and rolling out a diplomatic offensive that should begin with sanctions against the group as a whole and not just individuals who represent them. The response on the ground and in the waters of Yemen should also be robust with more naval patrols.

Trouble is the United States under Joe Biden is in no mood to wade into another conflict in the Middle East after the shameful exit from Afghanistan. Biden’s foreign policy lies in tatters and the US is unabashedly in retreat. Only an Arab military bloc on the lines of Nato would protect the region from terrorists who seek to destabilise countries. The idea was mooted by the Trump administration but has not taken off under Biden. The Arab world must unite under the Arab League. A military pact is the need of the hour.

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