Source Gatestone Institute
NEW YORK, U.S.--This week, Ansar Allah ("Supporters of God"), also known as the Houthis, an Iranian-backed armed militia in Yemen, launched ballistic missiles against civilian targets in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
These are only the latest aerial attacks by Ansar Allah against the two countries, on top of the large-scale violence, deprivation and suffering it has inflicted on the civilian population of Yemen.
Following last week's Abu Dhabi attack, Biden said he will consider reversing the decision. That would be the right move and he should do it immediately.
Before he de-listed Ansar Allah, Biden also ended Obama's and Trump's policies of support for Saudi Arabia's offensive military operations against the group, including arms supplies. Together these steps emboldened Ansar Allah and their Iranian sponsors and reduced Saudi Arabia's capacity to fight against them.
A US State Department spokesman claimed at the time that the delisting of Ansar Allah had "nothing to do with" their "reprehensible conduct". So what was it about? Biden claimed the delisting and cessation of military support to the Saudis would somehow contribute towards ending the conflict.
Two other factors undoubtedly influenced Biden's decision, perhaps even more than what he must have known was a vain hope of conflict resolution.
First, he was already on a spree of reversing any policy with Trump's fingerprints on it.
Perhaps even more importantly however, was that Biden, desperate to restore Obama's deeply-flawed nuclear agreement with Iran, may have hoped these concessions would play well in Tehran, given the reality of the ayatollahs' use of Yemen as a proxy war against Saudi Arabia.
Biden's moves were a classic example of the failure of appeasement. Inevitably, the Iranian ayatollahs were not won over by these and other US placations.
Meanwhile, according to the UN, since being delisted Ansar Allah has stepped up its aggression, including increased Iranian-supported drone strikes against US allies in the region as we have seen continuing in recent days.
The Ansar Allah insurgency, now in its seventh year, has led to a humanitarian crisis branded by the UN as the worst in the world, with large-scale human rights abuse and more than 230,000 estimated deaths.
Ansar Allah now controls Yemen's capital, Sanaa, and 60 percent of the country, with around 50 percent of the population under its tyranny, which is reminiscent of the Islamic State.
Ansar Allah's bloodthirsty motto is: "Allah is greater, death to America, death to Israel, curse on the Jews, victory to Islam". Previous US military defensive action may have deterred it, but Ansar Allah still represents a direct terrorist threat to the US.
Ansar Allah also jeopardises wider American interests in the region, as well as its allies. As mentioned, we have seen strikes on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both members of the Arab coalition fighting against them. Its ambitions may be broader.
So far the West has proved impotent in helping to end this devastating war, with all efforts at agreeing a negotiated settlement frustrated largely due to Ansar Allah's intransigence. Its violent offensive against Yemen's Marib Governorate that began last February is further evidence that, with Iranian backing, it continues to seek only the path of war.
Like America, Britain has significant national interests to defend in the Gulf, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE are key allies and trading partners. Despite strong pressure, the UK did not follow the US lead in ceasing arms supplies and other military support to Saudi.
Lord Sharpe, a British government front bench spokesman, commented last week that the UK was keeping under review the designation of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps acknowledging that its role includes supporting Ansar Allah.
Re-designating Ansar Allah, a move that is supported by the internationally-recognised government of Yemen, will not end the conflict. But it will damage the terrorist group, enabling asset-freezing and further US sanctions and pressurising other nations to follow suit.
Re-designation will enable prosecution of Ansar Allah members and those supporting them as well as potentially providing a useful tool in any future peace talks.
Re-designation would not prevent Iran from continuing to fuel the Yemen insurgency but it would send a message of US strength to Tehran, one sorely needed in the months following the Afghanistan debacle and the administration's open desperation to renew the nuclear deal at almost any price.
Yemen is only one front in Iran's widespread regional aggression that embraces Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Israel. It is essential that the US renew its strong opposition to Iran's expansionist actions, countering them at every opportunity. That would include supporting regional allies and fully restoring arms sales to Saudi Arabia for its fight against Iranian proxies in Yemen.
Such policies, of course, are in direct opposition to Biden's over-arching determination to return to the nuclear deal, which should in any case be abandoned in the interests of regional and global security.
Other than the nuclear deal miscalculations, the only argument against re-designation of Ansar Allah is the effect it might have on commercial imports and international aid which are vital to the people of Yemen.
The US administration could overcome this by granting broad licences and waivers to organisations and companies operating in and around Yemen, enabling essential supplies including food, fuel and medicines to be delivered.
No doubt such a licensing regime would introduce further complications to the already desperate and fraught humanitarian programmes, on top of the theft of aid by Ansar Allah.