The Obama foreign policy is officially back. The Biden administration lifted the designation of the Islamist Houthis as a “terrorist” group, citing that foreign aid is needed in the war-torn country of Yemen.
While foreign aid groups lauded the decision, because the Yemeni people are understandably suffering from civil war, famine and oppressive regimes, the overturning of the Trump-era policy of designating the Houthis as a terror group is fraught with peril. The Zaydi-Shiite Islamist organization is widely cited by intelligence experts as being backed by the Iranians.
The Wilson Center states that, “Iran is widely accused of backing the Houthis, a Zaydi Shiite movement that has been fighting Yemen’s Sunni-majority government since 2004. The Houthis took control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa (left) in September 2014 and continued on towards Aden, Yemen’s largest city.”
After the Ansarullah group, better known as the Houthis, took control of Yemen’s capital Sanaa in September 2014, their huge and well-oiled propaganda machine has made a dramatic appearance.
However, the Houthi’s propaganda strategy did not start from nothing, and contain hallmarks of the Lebanese Hizballah movement’s own propaganda operation in its discourse and format.
The Biden administration is already suffering from appearances that it will be weak on Iran, and this move does nothing to help those poor optics. Recently, the Iranian regime announced that it is escalating its nuclear fuel enrichment program, a step believed by analysts to bring it weeks closer to weapons-grade material.
The Obama administration was similarly weak on Iran, beyond the terror regime’s sudden nuclear-enrichment drive. Biden’s choice for Special Envoy to Iran, Rob Malley, was a key architect of the JCPOA and a former Mideast adviser to Obama. The Obama administration also quietly shipped $400 million in cash to the Iranians as “ransom” for hostages as part of a transfer of $1.7 billion to Iran “made entirely in cash.”
Biden’s former administration also turned a blind eye as Iranians crushed their own version of an Arab Spring movement, which actually had a grassroots impetus and the benefit of a potential grounding in civil norms and pro-Western sentiment.
The Yemeni civil war arose in the wake of the failed Arab Spring movement, which the Biden administration widely hailed as a harbinger of “democratic” reforms. As can be seen both abroad and at home, the push for “democracy” can lead to destabilization when not accompanied by norms that emphasize respect for individual rights and minority protections.
That can be seen strikingly in the dubiously selective decision by the Department of Homeland Security to issue a “terrorism advisery” bulletin that is in place until April 30, 2021, despite the agency admitting there is no “credible, imminent” intelligence. It is clear contextually that the bulletin is a reaction to the Capitol siege of January 6th, which saw the appearance of far-right groups like the Oath Keepers and the “Proud Boys,” which Canada recently designated as a terror group.
The U.S. Capitol will be occupied by thousands of National Guard troops until at least mid-March, based on such a general state of heightened alarm, at the expense of an estimated $500 million. This is despite the predicted January 20 re-emergence of such a right-wing threat having fizzled out, and accompanied by ongoing violent rioting carried out by far-left extremists in major cities.
The White House’s dubious positions on terrorism have more than the whiff of hypocrisy and political expediency. The Biden team is already issuing forth the same stale ivory tower foreign policy that one would expect from career bureaucrats. It is devoid of an appreciation that there are very few “good guys” in international relations, along with a globalist impetus to abuse America as a “world police” in foreign matters.
Biden’s turn to the outside, amid a slew of domestic troubles, is a marked change from the Trump-era’s ‘America First’ policies. And it does not bode well for the United States, either at home or abroad.
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.