Biden, Houthis need to step back at Red Sea

The international community, particularly the U.S. and the U.K., should support this process and avoid actions that hinder it. Advocating for a diplomatic and humanitarian policy is crucial.

| Updated: 13 January, 2024 6:00 pm IST
Illustration by Abhishek Thakur @The New Indian

The recent military strike by the U.S. and the U.K. against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which was prompted by the Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, is a reckless and irresponsible act that risks further destabilizing the region and worsening the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The strike also exposes the hypocrisy and failure of the Biden administration’s foreign policy, which claims to promote diplomacy and human rights, but resorts to violence and coercion. The strike also does not absolve the Houthis of their culpability and crimes, as they continue to defy the international community and endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.

The U.S. and the U.K. justified their strike as a necessary response to the Houthi attacks on the Red Sea, which they said threatened the security and commerce of the world. However, this argument is flawed and self-serving, as it ignores the root causes and the context of the conflict in Yemen, which is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with the U.S. and the U.K. supporting the former and the Houthis being backed by the latter.

The U.S. and the U.K. have been complicit in the Saudi-led coalition’s brutal and indiscriminate bombing campaign in Yemen, which has killed tens of thousands of civilians, displaced millions more, and created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. The U.S. and the U.K. have also been supplying weapons and intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition, despite the evidence of war crimes and human rights violations. The two countries have also been blocking or undermining the efforts of the United Nations and other actors to broker a peaceful and political solution to the conflict, which is the only way to end the suffering and the violence in Yemen.

The strike also contradicts the Biden administration’s stated commitment to diplomacy and human rights, which it has repeatedly invoked to distinguish itself from the previous Trump administration. Biden has claimed that he would end the U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and that he would prioritize the protection of civilians and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

However, his actions have not matched his words, as he has continued to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. Biden has also failed to engage with the Houthis and their regional patrons, Iran, in a meaningful and constructive dialogue, and has instead imposed more sanctions and threats. The US President has also failed to address the underlying issues that fuel the conflict in Yemen, such as the political and economic marginalization of the Yemeni people, the sectarian and regional divisions, and the interference of external powers.

The Houthis blatantly disregard international law and norms, violating the 2018 cease-fire agreement. They neglect the welfare and rights of Yemeni citizens under their oppressive rule. Rejecting the recognized Yemeni government, they impose their agenda, aided by Iran for regional influence.

The recent U.S. and U.K. strikes, along with Houthi attacks, highlight a dangerous escalation in Yemen. Military approaches have failed, causing more violence and suffering. A comprehensive political process, addressing grievances and respecting sovereignty, is essential for lasting peace. The international community, particularly the U.S. and the U.K., should support this process and avoid actions that hinder it. Advocating for a diplomatic and humanitarian policy is crucial. The Houthis must cease aggression and engage in peaceful dialogue, respecting the will of the Yemeni people. The current actions exacerbate the issue and need to be halted promptly.

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