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Tawakkol Karman calls on Biden to apply 'maximum pressure' to Yemen's Houthis

Tawakkol Karman on 10 December 2011 [Flickr]
Tawakkol Karman on 10 December 2011 [Flickr]

Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkol Karman has urged US President Joe Biden to exert "maximum pressure" on Yemen's Houthi-led government "to retreat from their coup" and to return to what she argues was agreed upon at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) in 2014.

Karman made the comments in an opinion piece in the Washington Post last week in which she called on the Biden administration to uphold its pledge to end the devastating war in Yemen and its support and supply of arms to the Saudi-led coalition, which she describes as a mistake by Washington.

"There is no problem in Yemen or Saudi Arabia right now that will be solved with more bombs," Kamran observed. Instead of more bombs in Yemen, which has contributed to the world's worst humanitarian crisis including starvation, poverty and disease, she argues that Yemen needs sovereignty and independence.

However, the Nobel Prize winner who was once a member of the Saudi-supported Islah Party, having been suspended in 2018 over criticism of the coalition, also believes further sanctions on the de-facto government based in the capital Sanaa will be a solution in ending the conflict and putting a stop to Iran's interference in the country.

READ: Failure to realise Yemen's political reality prolongs the conflict and crisis

The decision to designate the Houthi movement, formally known as Ansarallah, as a terrorist organisation was approved by Biden's predecessor Donald Trump as one of his administration's final acts, despite wide-scale criticism from aid organisations, analysts and even some senior US officials who argued that it will be counter-productive and undermine humanitarian efforts, particularly as the Houthi-led government controls most of the country's population centres.

Yesterday it was reported that 22 aid groups working in Yemen have added to mounting calls on the Biden administration to revoke the designation of the Houthi movement, saying it puts millions of lives at risk.

"This designation comes at a time when famine is a very real threat to a country devastated by six years of conflict, and it must be revoked immediately. Any disruption to lifesaving aid operations and commercial imports of food, fuel, medicine and other essential goods will put millions of lives at risk," the aid groups' statement, which include signatories such as the Mercy Corps, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee, said.

The NDC, which Karman has endorsed, was part of the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative which saw President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi become interim president two years prior, following an unopposed election in which he was the sole candidate, prompting opposition from both southern separatists and the joint Houthi-army takeover of the capital Sanaa. The Houthi movement also rejected the outcomes of the NDC arguing that it divided Yemen into poor and wealthy regions.

READ: Yemen: Houthis take over Tawakkol Karman's home in Sanaa

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