Senior leaders of the Houthi militants in Yemen are seeking to quell a morale crisis within the group’s ranks, after a decision by the US government to remove its terrorism designation sparked widespread disappointment and a sense of failure among loyal cadres.
The group’s leader, Abdel Malek al-Houthi, said the decision came as a shock after members celebrated the milestone of being added to the terrorism list by the outgoing Donald Trump administration less than a month ago. The designation had made it much harder for aid groups to deliver humanitarian supplies to the impoverished, war-torn country.
“If everything we did so far isn’t terrorism, then what is terrorism?” he asked in a speech. “What are we? A gathering of jobless young men? Mercenaries? An archery club? We did not get into war or ally with Iran or help destroy the country just so we can be a political party with a military wing.”
“I don’t know what we did to Biden to treat us this unfairly,” he added.
He said the group may consider publishing its own videos showing the recruitment of child soldiers or violence against civilians in order to gain notoriety like other terror groups, such as ISIS.
“Is this our reward for not killing Americans or foreigners?” he asked. “I have followed in Hezbollah’s footsteps, down to the little facial expressions and movements of Hassan Nasrallah. How come they get to be terrorists and we do not?”
“Is our whole slogan, our raison d’etre, of ‘Death to America’ not good enough?” he added.