Israel lobbying Biden on behalf of UAE to designate Houthis as terror group

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (GPO - Anadolu Agency)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  February 15, 2022

Move follows string of unprecedented missile and drone attacks by the Yemeni group reaching deep into the Gulf Sheikdom.

Israel has been lobbying the Biden administration to re-designate Yemen’s Houthi movement as a terror group on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, The Times of Israel first reported on Tuesday.

The Houthis are an Iran-aligned group fighting against the Yemeni government and a Saudi-led military coalition that includes the UAE.

In recent months, the Houthis launched unprecedented air assaults on the UAE after militias supported by the Gulf state successfully pushed the rebels back on several battlefronts in Yemen.

Last month the group claimed responsibility for a drone attack on a key oil facility in Abu Dhabi that killed three people.

The UAE and the United States have since intercepted several ballistic missiles and drones fired by the Houthis at the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The Houthis have taken aim at the UAE’s status as premier business and tourism hub for the region, taunting it with cryptic threats against the Dubai Expo and warning foreign companies to leave the country.

The Saudi-led coalition has responded to the Houthi attacks by launching massive air campaigns against areas under the control of the group.

The UAE has already asked the Biden administration to re-designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization. Biden came into office promising to end the war in Yemen, and one of the signature moves of his early days in office was removing the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) label slapped on the Houthis during the final days of the Trump administration.

Several members of the US Congress have also floated the idea of re-designation. Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks, who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was looking “very carefully” at the issue and was in conversation with other officials.

US President Joe Biden has said his administration was considering the move in light of the recent attacks.

Many rights groups have warned, however, that such a move could jeopardize humanitarian work in Yemen and endanger the population, in what the UN has deemed the one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.