One of the first moves Antony Blinken made in his new role as secretary of state was to revoke the Houthis’ terror designation-who was promptly embarrassed by the Houthis’ increased attacks on Saudi and Emirati civilian infrastructure after they were delisted.
Many Americans are unaware of the Houthis, what they stand for, and why they are de facto enemy. There has been no serious campaign to explain why Americans should view the Houthis as our enemies throughout two administrations.
Like many other Arab movements, the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 deeply radicalized the Houthi movement. After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Houthis adopted the slogan: “God is great, death to the U.S., death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam.“. They also called themselves Ansar Allah, or supporters of Allah. Another unanticipated result of George Bush’s Iraq adventures, it was an unrecognized turning point outside Yemen.
The lesson seems to have not been learned by Mr. Blinken; a renewed Iran nuclear deal appears to be close to happening, and the United States is said to be prepared to reverse all Trump-era sanctions, according to leaks. There’s a shocker.
Any such agreement would benefit only one party, and that would not be the U.S., the Iranian people, or nuclear nonproliferation. Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps has been classified as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department as of April 8, 2019. To designate only its elite Quds Force unit would be to effectively absolve the organization as a whole.
It shouldn’t matter what they did with, say, the snail darter- if PETA places bombs in maternity wards – they’d still be listed as terrorists.
Trump or not, designating the entire Guard was a brilliant move by his administration. Mike Pompeo (former Director of the CIA) showed understanding of Iran’s inner workings, at least.
Iran’s Guard began investing in the civilian economy after the Iran-Iraq War to gain a financial base that would be independent from the Iranian government’s budgetary process. Without moral equivalence, today’s Guard economic arm is similar to what would happen if the Army Corps of Engineers merged with, say, Bechtel, KBR, Halliburton, Walmart, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Ford.
And then used the military might of the U.S. to force competitors out of business.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard currently controls up to 40% of its economy and a large share of imports, exports, and manufacturing. The Guard’s actual budget could be an order of magnitude higher than its official budget because of the revenue streams from these businesses, the no-bid contracts the Iranian government awards them, and the smuggling it controls.
By designating the Guard as a whole, any foreign company that does business with one of its businesses can be held liable if the Guard’s victims seek compensation. European companies therefore had an incentive to perform due diligence on their partners and make sure that they had no malign affiliations.
While the ban on investments in the Guard helped undercut terror financing, it benefited ordinary Iranians too, since Guard-owned companies are notorious for ignoring labor laws and failing to pay their employees.
Following a recent escalation in cross-border drone and missile attacks against Yemen’s oil-rich Gulf neighbors, the United States announced sanctions against members of what it said was an international financing network for Yemen’s Houthi rebels .
Although the Treasury Department imposed penalties, the measures were less severe than what the Saudis and Emiratis, strategic partners of the U.S., had asked for. As the crisis/war in Ukraine worsens high petroleum prices and supply shortages, U.S. officials have been in talks with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.