The least response one could expect from the United States following the Houthis’ attacks on civilian facilities in Abu Dhabi is to re-label them as a terrorist organization; and the least international stance one could expect from the Security Council is a denunciation of the Houthis’ “terrorist attacks” on the UAE when “a combination of cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and drones” was used in the attacks. What would have been a more solid and effective response is a Security Council resolution classifying the Houthis as a terrorist group, like it did al-Qaeda and ISIS, for the former have shown they are just as dangerous as the latter, if not more.
Al-Qaeda never managed to have a “state”; it rather took advantage of being hosted by the Taliban's Afghanistan to achieve its goals. Eventually, it took an international coalition led by the US to uproot and pursue the group and its leaders and curtail its dangers (albeit not completely). Similarly, had it not been for the war waged by the US-led coalition, the alleged “Islamic State” that ISIS thought it established would not have been eliminated after controlling vast areas of Iraq and Syria between 2014 and 2017. Despite its defeat, remnants of the group have recently reinvigorated its activity, even without a “state” of their own.
In 2001, al-Qaeda caused the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the subsequent destruction of the country. More recently, ISIS, along with some other comparable militias, also caused massive destruction in some of the oldest and most important Arab cities. But the Houthis are the only terrorist group to have overtaken a whole country. The fact that they are natives to this country cannot excuse their monstrosity, nor explain their terrorism as a “perspective.” The Houthis’ practices are no different than the slavery that ISIS practiced on citizens who found themselves under their brutal rule. ISIS stole people’s livelihoods and put their fate and future at stake, and the Houthis are no different. They have even outdone ISIS.
Whether in Saudi Arabia, where they bombed Aramco facilities in 2019 and launched numerous attacks on civilian locations, or in the UAE, where they attacked the Abu Dhabi airport and ADNOC depots, the terrorist Houthi group has provided all the evidence needed to prove that it constitutes a danger to its neighbors. This danger is not limited to crimes perpetrated with missiles and drones, but also includes the cartel it has formed with the arms and financial support it has received, along with its allies. In fact, the Houthis and their allies, which include Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraqi militias classified as terrorist groups, all have the same job: threatening regional stability, precisely in the Gulf. The terrorist classification is a no-brainer, but it does not mean anything if it is not coupled with international action to remove this tumor from the region before it evolves into cancer.
The international community cannot deal with terrorism and terrorist acts with double standards. Otherwise, it risks justifying it. Fighting terrorism without solidarity and on a discretionary basis paves the way for “legitimizing” it.
Houthis have been treated as a “Yemeni party” to a conflict they started themselves with the legitimate government, which did not attack them or any other party. Yet, this “Yemeni party” has taken Yemenis hostage, using them to extort humanitarian organizations and steal most of the aid aimed at their fellow citizens. At the same time, they abuse their recognition by the UN as a “party” and use its initiatives to make political gains and confer legitimacy to their terrorism and crimes, all while refusing to engage in cease-fires or negotiations on a political solution. This is the Houthi version of the al-Qaeda and ISIS mentality. The difference is that the former takes a whole state and its people hostage, and has no project other than waging war and spreading chaos.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, Emirati news outlet Al-Ittihad