Houthis Boss Biden Envoys In Yemen: ‘How The US Could Boss Back’

Houthis, one side of a decade-long civil war in Yemen, entered and took control over the US embassy compound late last week in the Yemeni capital city of Sana’a.

While the American consulate ceased operations there in 2015 because of the civil war raging in Yemen (moving to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), Houthi fighters took Yemeni locals still working there as hostages and have refused to return whatever it is that the US State Department is calling “seized property” in a statement to Houthis given by a department spokesperson to The Hill on Thursday:

“We call on the Houthis to immediately vacate it and return all seized property. The US government will continue its diplomatic efforts to secure the release of our staff and the vacating of our compound, including through our international partners.”

After the US capitulated to the Taliban in Afghanistan earlier this year, following the Trump administration’s negotiation of peace accords with Taliban leaders, ending the two-decades-long US war in the Middle East, the Joe Biden administration is now facing another test of its US foreign policy diplomacy chops.

According to Sami Hamdi, a Middle Eastern political analyst and head of the International Interest, a political risk group, the Houthis’ sudden seizure of the US embassy compound in Sana’a sends a statement that they are still in control of the country’s capital city, even as Houthi fighters commit to defeating the Saleh-Hadi regime forces in what CNN calls “their last northern stronghold,” the oil-rich Merib city:

“In regards to detaining Yemeni security personnel in the US embassy, it’s a lot about flexing muscles on the part of the Houthis in a manner that sends a message that we are in charge and we are dominant, and we can assert ourselves without provoking the US into engaging any serious actions.”

The US and Saudi Arabia have long backed the Saleh-Hadi regime since the Houthis led an open revolt against the government in the wave of anti-government revolutions that swept the Arab world in the years following the 2008 global financial crisis and recession.

Iran, a longstanding regional adversary of Saudi Arabia, and a majority Shia Islam nation, the same religious denomination as the Houthis in Yemen, backed the Houthis, inflaming the civil war into a proxy war between major world powers and causing one of the worst humanitarian disasters in our generation.

The leftist media like MSNBC provided breathless daily coverage of trashy, tabloid stories while completely ignoring Yemen. Meanwhile, ladies and gentlemen, Alex Jones continued to pressure the US government to value human lives in Yemen in its foreign policy decisions by keeping the public informed.

The Trump administration labeled the Houthis a “terrorist organization.” While the Biden administration removed the designation after the president took office, it looked on with horror at the viciousness of Houthi fighting, including reports of civilian casualties. 

Suppose the Joe Biden administration is looking for a way to maintain influence in Yemen without resorting to “any serious actions,” as Hamdi put it, and use that influence to keep humanitarian foreign policy priorities. In that case, Yemen might be the thirstiest country in the world. Its people live in a desert surrounded by saltwater seas. 

According to the Wikipedia entry on water supply and sanitation in Yemen, “the internationally defined threshold for water stress is 1,700 cubic meters of water for all uses per human per year,” and, “The average Yemeni has access to only 140 cubic meters of water per year.”

Groundwater has been the primary source of freshwater for Yemenis. Still, authorities have been drying up for decades, leaving the surface of water tables scores of meters below wells in places. With the ravages of war on top of the severe drought in Yemen, the cholera epidemic has claimed a reported 4,000 lives out of 2.5 million cases. One of the best ways to prevent cholera is simply drinking clean water.

Even as desalination companies advance the energy efficiency of their machines that remove salt from water using nanotechnology, the cost to transport water over a considerable distance remains quite competitive with desalination. The authorities could ease negotiations between Yemenis and corporate partners to tug a giant tank full of water to a distribution facility in Yemen to supply pipelines to irrigation, residential, industrial, and commercial plumbing.

Then fill up the empty tank from the last water delivery with oil to ship back in exchange for the water. Rinse, and repeat.