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US considering re-designating Iran-backed Houthis as a terror group, Biden says

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin discussed the recent Houthi attacks on the UAE with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

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President Joe Biden revealed Wednesday that the US was considering re-designating the Iran-backed Houthis as a terror organization, as the UAE and other countries ramped up pressure to make the move.

Asked about US efforts to end the war in Yemen, Biden said it would be difficult. “Ending the war in Yemen takes the two parties to be involved to do; it’s going to be very difficult,” he said in response to a question from Al Arabiya.

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UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba had earlier called on the White House and US lawmakers to support the re-designation, days after a deadly attack by the Iran-backed group killed civilians in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi was targeted on Monday when drone and missile attacks resulted in the explosion of three fuel tankers. Three people were killed and six others were wounded.

US President Joe Biden on the eve of his first year in office, Jan. 19, 2022. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden on the eve of his first year in office, Jan. 19, 2022. (AFP)

Another fire broke out in the area of the new construction site of the Abu Dhabi International Airport.

“In comments earlier today, Amb Al Otaiba described the Houthi terrorist attacks against civilian sites in the UAE that killed 3 innocent civilians. He called on the Administration and Congress to support re-designating the Houthi terrorist organization as an FTO,” a tweet from the UAE Embassy in the US read.

Al Otaiba also said that he would join Ali Al Shamsi, the UAE Director of National Intelligence, for meetings with officials from the White House and Congress in Washington later in the day.

Washington’s renewed diplomatic efforts came after the election of Biden last year; however, one of his first foreign policy moves saw the Houthis removed from the terror blacklist. Additionally, the Biden administration lifted senior Houthi officials’ names off the Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) list.

Separately, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin discussed the recent Houthi attacks on the UAE with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

In a phone call, the officials agreed on the need to respond to the terrorist attack carried out by the Iran-backed Houthis and ways to strengthen air defense systems against missiles and drones, state news agency WAM reported.

A Pentagon readout of the call said Austin “underscored his unwavering support for the security and defense of UAE territory against all threats.”

Read more: US Special Envoy for Yemen heading to Gulf to ‘reinvigorate peace efforts’

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