The US has mulled the possibility of designating the Yemeni Houthi militants a terrorist group, Omani Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Al Busaidi has revealed. He added that he believes such a move would cause more harm than good.
“Yes, that was raised,” Al Busaidi told a summit in Bahrain, answering a question on whether the potential blacklisting was discussed with America. According to the minister, the issue was brought up by the US’ assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, David Schenker.
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Schenker was due to discuss “regional security and economic cooperation, as well as a way forward on the conflict in Yemen” during his visit to the Omani capital of Muscat between December 1 and 5, ahead of his arrival to Riyadh for talks with the Saudis.
Al Busaidi clearly did not support Washington’s initiative regarding the Houthis, however, arguing that it would not contribute to the conflict’s resolution and instead only make things worse. “I don’t think there is a solution based on classifying or blockading one key player in that conflict and not bringing them to the negotiating table,” he said, as cited by Reuters.
“My question to that [a US designation] … is that decision going to resolve the Yemeni conflict given that this group is a key player? … Or is it better to really support what the United Nations envoy is trying to do by inviting everyone including that group to the table,” the minister added.
The UN has been trying to revive peace negotiations between the parties to the protracted civil war in Yemen. The conflict, ongoing since 2014, has been in a deadlock for years. The Saudi-led coalition which joined the war in 2015 has been waging a massive bombing campaign against the Shia Houthi militants who ousted Yemen’s former president. However, the group still holds the nation’s capital of Sanaa and most large urban centers.
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Ravaged by war and hit by a Saudi naval blockade, Yemen is in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The conflict was exacerbated by a deadly cholera outbreak and widespread famine, leaving more than 24 million people in need of humanitarian aid, according to the UN.
In April, the nation also reported its first confirmed Covid-19 cases, with the local health officials fearing that up to 90 percent of the population could become infected over time.
Charities and aid workers providing assistance in Yemen have expressed concerns that Washington’s decision to add Houthis to the terrorist list could make aiding the Yemeni population nearly impossible.
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