Congress: Please consider the consequences of your resolutions on Yemen

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Years of Houthi aggression have left my nation pockmarked and weary, consumed by the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and desperate for peace. Yet, we haven’t given up hope. We believe a political solution that will protect and empower all Yemeni people is within reach. After three years of stonewalling, the Iran-backed Houthis are slowly moving toward the negotiating table. But the congressional resolution introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) to remove all U.S. support for the Arab Coalition in Yemen will not help our quest for peace, instead will deliver a massive victory to Iran and embolden the extremist Houthi militias to continue terrorizing our country, as they have done for the past five years. If passed, this resolution will only serve to prolong the conflict and deepen the crisis.

There is so much that is misunderstood about the conflict in Yemen. First, this is not a “Saudi war.” The conflict today is between the elected government of Yemen and its people against a racist and radical militia – the Houthis – who would end democracy in Yemen and become another Hezbollah that is controlled by Iran, intent on threatening the region. In 2015, the Iran-backed Houthis stormed the capital and violently overthrew the government. President Hadi and his legitimate government called upon the Arab Coalition to assist in our fight against the Houthi threat. Their support has also been critical in combatting Al-Qaeda. The technical and advisory support of the United States to the Arab Coalition directly contributes to the security and stability of Yemen and the broader region.

{mosads}Yemen is one part of an Iranian strategy to extend its revolution to the region. Iranian leaders have boasted that Sanaa, my capital, is under Iran’s control, along with three other Arab capitals – Beirut, Baghdad and Damascus. The Houthis are yet another proxy in a campaign of violent expansionism that poses a serious threat to the peace and security of the world and must be confronted and contained.

Just who are the Houthis?   To understand this group, you don’t have to look much further than what is printed on their flag, which reads: “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse the Jews, and Victory to Islam.” This motto is partially modelled on the motto of revolutionary Iran. In March of 2018, the Houthi movement’s leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, vowed to fight alongside Hezbollah in a future war with Israel, and al-Houthi recently sent a delegation to Lebanon to meet with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. The Houthis have also devised an egregious political manifesto further to their slogan, which is laced with anti-American and anti-Semitic fervor. And they also profess a divine right to rule over all of Yemen. Indeed, their authority would be called an “Houthiocracy”, combining the worst elements of both an autocratic and theocratic regime as evident and inspired by their Iranian patrons, and where a minority group with despotic tendencies are oppressing the general population under its control.

In Yemen, the Houthis have executed a brutal guerrilla war using illegal and internationally banned tactics, including child soldiers, human shields, land mines, ballistic missiles aimed at civilian targets in Saudi Arabia and other acts of terrorism. The Houthi flag, their words and actions should not leave any doubt as to where the United States should lend its support in this conflict and we hope that members of Congress will think twice before taking actions that will benefit the Iranian agenda.

Only a peaceful, political resolution can bring an end to the war in Yemen and especially one that respects the GCC Initiative, the National Dialogue Conference Outcomes and UN Security Council Resolution 2216 (i.e., the Three References). But as far back as 2013, there have been a number of serious attempts to work with the Houthis to create a framework for peace. Yet each time we were close to an agreement, the Houthis reneged and ultimately walked away from negotiations, preferring to continue their military assault on the capital and other territories. Faced with this history, it is clear that unless the Houthis are met with combined political and military pressures and denying them sources of support from Iran, such as fuel, hard currency and weapons being illegally smuggled to them by land or sea, they will wage war indefinitely. Our hope is to reach a negotiated peace, but we will not be able to reach that objective without the continued support of the Arab coalition and the support of the United States.

The world, except for Iran and Houthis, wants the same thing – a peaceful resolution in Yemen. We have found a path to peace and it is working. We should not undermine the progress we are making now and instead of pulling back, the U.S. needs to support us through the combination of negotiation and pressure. If our allies withdraw, then we fear that the crisis we want to solve will only intensify, leading to more destruction and the loss of more innocent lives, not less.

The Government of the Republic of Yemen urges all members of Congress to reassess their stance appealing for the withdrawal of U.S. support from this conflict, and to consider the profound consequences and negative effect this would have on our shared security interests in both the U.S. and region.

Dr. Ahmed Awad BinMubarak is Ambassador of Yemen to the United States of America.

Tags Houthi Ro Khanna Saudi Arabia Yemen

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