By Sarah Hassan
Contributing opinion writer
The UN has done no bigger harm to Yemen recently than getting the Houthis, a Shiit ISIS-like militia, removed from the US terror list.
Soon after the US indicated its will to unlist Houthis in response to the UN’s appeals, the militia launched a renewed offensive on Marib in an unprecedentedly long and ferocious way that it qualifies to be called the Battle of Stalingrad.
The militia have been waging intermittent offensives on Marib since the beginning of the Yemeni war in March 2015. Each round takes a week or two at the maximum before both warring sides wear out and take a pause.
But this ongoing one started on February 6 and is still raging into its fourth week, with signs it is not even going to let up.
Stuck in the quagmire and wanting to save the UN’s face with a quick conquest, the militia sacrificed three thousand fighters: They were killed, injured and arrested by the government forces. The militia then poured reinforcements, equipment and fighters, withdrawn from other theaters as far as the other side of the country, the West Coast. But it didn’t work either.
Sources say the militia is still conscripting thousands including children at the moment, especially from Saadah and Dhamar areas, to engage in Marib’s close combats where the fighters fall in the hundreds, and IDPs living close by get killed too, and displaced.
This bloodbath was triggered by nothing other than the US whitelisting of Houthis upon the UN’s ill-advice.
Realizing the shame of what it has done, the world organization now wants to cover it up by adding one of the Houthi leaders to a list of “sanctions.”
Those sanctions against one individual, Sultan Zaben, will, however, convince no one in his right mind that the UN is strict with Houthis.
The sanctions affect only one Houthi individual. And they – asset freeze and travel ban – are not even applicable to a member of a domestic terrorist group who neither keeps assets in banks nor will be deterred by losing the freedom to travel abroad.
Therefore the Zaben sanctions seemed to want to promote the illusion that the UN, in some respects, is strict with Houthis. Which only a few people may believe. .
For all the war, hunger, destruction and despair Houthis have brought upon Yemen, the UN has done nothing serious to deter, punish or even upset them. The so called Sultan Zaben “sanctions are not going to cover this fact up.