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Ben Weingarten

Federalist Senior Contributor; Claremont Institute Fellow

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US response to Houthis is an example of bad Biden policy

Jan 23

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In the wake of the Israel-Hamas war, Yemen’s Houthis — who share certain geopolitical objectives with Hamas — have escalated their attacks on shipping vessels in the Red Sea, with the stated aim of crippling Israeli trade and commerce. The conflict escalated recently when Houthi fighters attacked a U.S. Navy vessel, and the U.S. then coordinated a series of fast counter-strikes against 60 Houthi targets. Following the strikes, the Biden administration officially re-designated the Houthis as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist group.”

Straight Arrow News contributor Ben Weingarten mocks the Biden administration for what Weingarten says is a weak, hypocritical and disingenuous U.S. response to Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. Weingarten argues that the response is “a perfect microcosm” for everything wrong with Biden’s foreign policy at large.

If you want a quintessential example of the treachery of the Biden administration’s foreign policy, look no further than the faux terrorism designation it recently slapped on Yemen’s Houthis. On Jan. 17, after weeks of attacks on the U.S. and its allies turning the Red Sea into a no-go zone, the White House was finally compelled to take action, re-designating the Shia jihadist group as a terrorist organization. There were a couple of caveats to the re-designation, though.

First, it came with a series of carve-outs the Houthis will no doubt exploit. Among the exceptions to the sanctions imposed in the group are those relating to “the provision of agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices, replacement parts and components or software updates, telecommunications, mail and certain internet-based communications, personal remittances and refined petroleum products.” Think a terrorist group won’t milk those loopholes to the nth degree? Goods can be traded for money. Money can be traded for weapons. It’s called fungibility.

If you want a quintessential example of the treachery of the Biden administration’s foreign policy, look no further than the faux terrorism designation it recently slapped on Yemen’s Houthis. On January 17, after weeks of attacks on the U.S. and its allies turning the Red Sea into a no-go zone, the White House was finally compelled to take action, re-designating the Shia jihadist group as a terrorist organization. There were a couple of caveats the re-designation, though.

 

First, it came with a series of carve-outs the Houthis will no doubt exploit. Among the exceptions to the sanctions imposed in the group are those relating to quote “the provision of agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices, replacement parts and components or software updates, telecommunications, mail and certain internet-based communications, personal remittances and refined petroleum products.” Think a terrorist group won’t milk those loopholes to the nth degree? Goods can be traded for money. Money can be traded for weapons. It’s called fungibility.

 

Second, the Biden Administration State Department re-designated the Houthis as a specially designated terrorist group. The Biden Treasury Department, however, did not re-designate Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization, as the Trump administration had done back in 2021. The end result, as the Washington Free Beacon reports, the State Department designation will neither criminalize support for the group, compel banks to seize its assets, nor allow victims of its savagery to receive compensation from assets seized.

 

The Houthis can even still obtain visas, while Jews in Judea and Samaria designated as impediments to a two-state solution the Biden administration seeks to impose on it are getting hit with visa bans. The stated rationale for re-designating the group only under a Swiss-cheese State Department regime is to permit vital aid to the war-torn country. But that was the rationale for removing the terrorism designations in the first place. So, was the administration lying then, or is it lying now?

 

Let’s be real about what’s going on. The Biden Administration has undertaken cosmetic measures, pinprick strikes, and a phony re-designation here for the same reason it de-designated the group in the first place: Because its Middle East policies to aid, abet and enable Iran and its proxies while orienting America away from its traditional Sunni partners and Israel, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is arming and helping the Houthis execute these attacks on American assets and those of our allies, yet you’ll never hear a word from the administration about Iran support for the Houthis. Just as the administration has done everything they can to de-link Iran from Hamas’ October 7 attack, despite all evidence to the contrary, as I’ve long speculated, and as I believe is being borne out every day, in the wake of Iran-proxy Hamas’ Holocaust-level attack against Israel, the Biden administration’s response has been to deter Israel from striking Iran and its proxies, and doing what needs to be done to swiftly destroy Hamas, because it is chiefly concerned about defending the Mullahcracy and its proxies in service of its policy to make them the region’s collective strong horse, just as Barack Obama had tried to do.

 

Biden has to balance the political reality that the American public is opposed to this policy. While his radical left, his base, wants him to go further and faster in putting the screws to our allies and promoting our enemies, every decision he makes is about creating the appearance of standing with our friends while shaving them and minimally punishing our enemies so as not to scuttle the overall malign objective. In this way, the fake Houthi designation is a perfect microcosm of the Biden administration’s policy.

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