The decisive Emirati blacklist
The United Arab Emirates has designated the Yemeni Houthi movement of Ansar al-Allah as a terrorist group
The United Arab Emirates is the second Arab Gulf country after Saudi Arabia to designate the Yemeni Houthi movement of Ansar al-Allah as a terrorist group. This step is significant on many levels, especially as it reorganizes relations in a region which has seen dangerous political changes. The group was blacklisted because it takes directives from Iran and because it is being employed to take over the Yemeni state amid a regional war.
The Houthi movement was one of 84 groups to be officially designated by the UAE on Saturday as terrorist groups. The Emirati move angered some parties and particularly angered the media outlets affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood groups who were ranked at the top of the terror list.
The majority of objections to the Emirati terror list came from the Muslim BrotherhoodAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Instead of defending the Brotherhood’s record or exonerating them, these media outlets reacted by condemning the exclusion of Lebanon’s Hezbollah from the list. Of course, Hezbollah was blacklisted and banned a long time ago. The recently endorsed Emirati list includes factions that support Hezbollah such as the Hezbollah in Saudi Arabia’s Hijaz, a group that follows Iran, Hezbollah in the Gulf region, the Badr organization and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq in Iraq. All these groups are extremist Shiites.
The list also included extremist Sunni organizations such as al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Harakat Ahrar ash-Sham in Syria, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, Bayt al-Maqdis in Egypt, al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya in Egypt, Ajnad Misr in Egypt and the Uma Parties in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula which are extremist Salafist groups.
In the past, terrorist groups were limited in number and they had clear platforms. However, today, as a result of chaos and raging wars in one third of Arab countries, these groups have increased in number and all resemble each other in the eyes of many people.
Keeping in quiet
There have always been these lists and all states have them. However, keeping these lists confined to the ministries of interior and foreign affairs is no longer politically useful as making the names public is an important part of the move to besiege such groups. Houthi supporters will, for example, find out that their rivals include Saudi Arabia and the UAE in addition to the weak transitional government of Yemen. The Houthis must therefore choose which camp they prefer.
The majority of objections to the Emirati terror list came from the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been engaged in battles against the UAE for a while now on behalf of other parties. One notices that the excuses they resort to can actually be used to condemn them. They said that Lebanon’s Hezbollah was not listed and this is not true as the party was banned a long time ago. Hezbollah is also a long-time ally of the Brotherhood itself. Another rebuttal of theirs is that they are a political and an intellectual group and it makes no sense to have them banned along with the likes of ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorist groups. This was true in the past; however, events in Egypt and Gaza and the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in the Gulf prove that the group will not hesitate to resort to violence to achieve its goals – just as the case is in Egypt today.
The Brotherhood-rooted Hamas killed dozens of Fatah members in Gaza to seize and maintain power there for years.
Brotherhood groups in the Gulf called for revolting against local governments, thinking that it was appropriate to ride the Arab Spring wave of chaos in a bid to take power. When it failed to do so, it allied with these countries’ foreign rivals. The roles of the Brotherhood’s political and military wings have become blurred over the past three years as they have begun to work closely together. This prompted countries like the UAE and others to view the Brotherhood as even more dangerous than ISIS.
Clarity in the current phase of chaos makes it easy for everyone to understand what’s going on and to differentiate between an enemy and a friend.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on November 17, 2014.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.