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Oman rejects US plans to designate Yemen’s Houthis as terrorists

December 7, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Houthis in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, on 21 September 2019 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Al-Busaidi has expressed his country’s rejection of a proposed move by the US to designate the Yemeni AnsarAllah movement, commonly known as the Houthis, as a terrorist group.

Last month the administration of President Donald Trump announced it was planning to add the movement to the US list of foreign terrorist organisations.

The move has faced opposition from humanitarian groups who argue that it is counterproductive and could disrupt international aid efforts and UN-backed peace initiatives as the country approaches its sixth year of conflict.

However on Saturday, Al-Busaidi said that David Schenker the US Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs had brought up the possibility of the issue during a recent visit to Muscat.

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“Yes, that was raised,” the Omani diplomat acknowledged according to a Reuters report, before adding “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.”

“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?” Al-Busaidi asked.

The Houthi movement forms an integral part of the rival, yet internationally-unrecognised Yemeni government, the National Salvation Government (NSG) based in the capital Sanaa, and controls the country’s most densely populated areas, it currently has diplomatic ties with Iran and Syria. The NSG was formed in 2016 two years after the Houthi and allied-military takeover of the capital and a year following the Saudi-led coalition’s war intended to reinstate exiled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

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