Washington, London, Riyadh – Ali Barada and Asharq Al-Awsat
The Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen were quick to shy away from claiming responsibility for a failed attack on the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition had thwarted an aerial attack on the capital, holding the militias responsible.
Their denial was made on the heels of the new American administration’s urging of the Houthis to “change their behavior”.
The coalition also thwarted on Friday Houthi attacks in the shape of an armed drone flown towards Saudi Arabia and a booby-trapped vessel launched in the southern Red Sea.
In remarks carried by CNN, a US State Department spokesperson said that they “strongly believe” the militias “need to change their behavior,” adding that they bear “significant responsibility for the humanitarian catastrophe and insecurity in Yemen.”
This is the second time that the Houthis carry out an attack and later avoid claiming it.
Observers noted that the militias did not announce their responsibility for the attack on the new legitimate government at Aden airport in December 2020.
The government had accused the militias, Hezbollah and Iran of being involved.
The observers said the Houthis are concerned that their terrorist attacks would impact the State Department’s review of their terrorist designation.
“As noted by Secretary-Designate (Antony) Blinken, the State Department has initiated a review of the Houthis’ terrorist designations,” the spokesperson said.
Blinken, President Joe Biden’s pick for secretary of state, said at his nomination hearing Tuesday that his “deep concern about the designation that was made is that at least on its surface it seems to achieve nothing particularly practical in advancing the efforts against the Houthis and to bring them back to the negotiating table, while making it even more difficult than it already is to provide humanitarian assistance to people who desperately need it.”
“With the humanitarian crisis in Yemen we are working as fast as we can to conduct the review and make a determination,” they added.