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US Ban On Yemeni Ansarullah: What Are Goals And Effects?

After long-time speculations about adding Yemen’s Ansarullah Movement to the so-called US terror blacklist, Mike Pompeo on Monday announced he will inform Congress about the decision in his last full week as Secretary of State.

Washington will add to its largely-biased “international terror blacklist” Ansarullah’s Secretary-General Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, his brother Abdul-Khaliq Badreddin al-Houthi, and a senior leader at the revolutionary movement Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim.

But why is the outgoing administration making such a move? What effects could this move have on Yemeni political scope?

Frustration with war

As an answer to the question about the motivation behind designating Ansarullah as an international terrorist organization, there should be a reference to the resistant movement’s victories against the Saudis and their allies. The movement now has an upper hand both on the battleground and also the political ground over the Saudi-Emirati aggression and its home and foreign backers, hence powerfully and smartly marring all plots designed by foreign sides.

The victories of the Yemeni army and popular committees have been so influential that totally changed the war equations. Now, largescale fragility and disarray are apparently observable in the aggression coalition. So far, all efforts to get the largely-messy things right in southern Yemen, where the government of the fugitive President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi sits, have gone nowhere.

From another angle, the six-year inhumane siege, which represents Saudi Arabia’s last hope to bring Ansarullah to its knees and continues to date as the West hypocritically backs it, is collapsing as the Yemeni revolutionary forces step up their missile, drone, and sea strikes at Saudi economic arteries.

Maintaining the Yemen crisis

Certainly, one of the objectives behind the Ansarullah designation is to put political and economic pressures on Sana’a.

Politically, blocking any advancement of the intra-Yemeni talks aimed at ending the transition from the crisis and war from which the Yemenis have been suffering for years to security and stability is on the White House agenda.

The US counterterrorism legislation, approved in 1996 by Congress, bans and criminalizes roughly any cooperation and trade ties with any group blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organization.

Five years after the devastating unequal war against the Yemeni people, Ansarullah resistance to the foreign aggression, deterring attempts by regional and international powers to partition Yemen, and also prevailing security and stability in Sana’a and other regions controlled by the revolutionary forces make Ansarullah a respected and weighty force for negotiations in the eyes of Yemen’s political and tribal forces. Since a long time, Ansarullah proposed an intra-Yemeni peace dialogue.

Setting patterns for Biden administration

Another goal behind the White House move is related to a possible deal made with the Saudis: In exchange for Saudi facilitation of the Arab-Israeli normalization, the White House in the closing days of the Trump government obligates Biden to back the Saudis in the Yemen crisis by blacklisting Ansarullah.

The Democrats have taken a critical stance on the Saudi-led coalition’s devastating war in Yemen that since March 2015 caused a huge humanitarian crisis in the already-impoverished country. Biden even talked about reviewing the relations with Riyadh. Still, adding Ansarullah to the terror list will provide a legal justification and cover for the Saudi crimes against Sana’a. Once the name is added, it would not be an easy job to remove it.

Despite all these goals set by the Americans, the blacklisting remains largely symbolic and would not impact the movement’s position and power both on the political and war stages. In the past, Washington blacklisted other resistant movements like Lebanese Hezbollah and some units of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to undermine them, but what is observable is the bold presence of Hezbollah and the PMF in home and regional developments.

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