A number of decisions taken by the Biden administration have apparently emboldened Iran and a number of its terrorist proxies. First was the decision to revoke the designation of the Iranian-backed Houthi group in Yemen as a foreign terrorist organization. Pictured: Houthi forces in Yemen's capital Sanaa on April 8, 2021. (Photo by Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Images)
A number of decisions taken by the Biden administration -- who were handed peace in the Middle East, US energy independence, secure borders, the blueprint for a booming economy, and American adversaries such as China, Russia and Iran on the defensive -- have managed, in four short months, to blow most of that up.
Some of these decisions have apparently emboldened Iran and a number of its terrorist proxies.
First was the decision to revoke the designation of the Iranian-backed Houthi group in Yemen as a foreign terrorist organization.
Second, was the Biden administration's offer to resume negotiations with Iran to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, enabling Iran, in a few years, to have unlimited nuclear weapons -- while ignoring Iran's continual breaches of the deal. The administration also apparently ignored Iran's harassment of American naval vessels. In fact, as if the US is about to reward Iran for all that.
Third, came the resumption of $235 million in financial aid to the Palestinians -- with no conditions attached.
These decisions, coupled with others, have evidently been interpreted by Iran and the Islamist terrorist groups as a sign of US weakness, as well as a green light for one of their proxies, the Houthis, to step up their missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.
"The [Biden administration's] decision encouraged the Houthi militia to go ahead with targeting Saudi Arabia," Yemeni researcher Dr. Adel Dashila said.
"The Houthi militia would not have dared to carry out such attacks had it remained on the list of terrorist groups. The decision to remove the Houthi militia from the list also boosted its diplomatic and political status."
World leaders have also watched as Communist China and the World Health Organization (WHO) deceived the world about the human transmissibility of the Covid-19 virus; China's takeover of Hong Kong, and threats to Australia, Taiwan and the Philippines. The response from the Biden administration is that it is about to reward Communist China -- with increasing investments from the US, with the 2022 Winter Olympics, and with a potentially imminent windfall for unenforceable, hard-to-believe promises to stop carbon emissions -- in 40 years -- when all the participants will be safely out of office. The administration has also agreed to reward the WHO for its duplicity by resuming $200 million in funding.
Recently, when the US was hit with two major cyber-attacks from Russia -- one on Solar Winds and one on the Colonial Pipeline, presumably from moonlighting subsidiaries of the Russian government -- world leaders saw that Russia suffered no consequences.
By these failures to hold wrongdoers accountable, and by revoking the designation of the Houthi militia as a terrorist organization, the Biden administration seems to have encouraged two of Iran's remaining terrorist proxies in the Gaza Strip -- Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) -- to conclude that whatever they did, it would be regarded by Washington with kind eyes.
It is no wonder, therefore, that many Arabs, especially the Gulf states, are continuing to express deep concern over the Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia.
These Arabs are also urging the international community, especially the US, to put pressure on Iran to stop meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries through its terrorist groups.
As far as many Arabs are concerned, the Biden administration's removal of the Houthis from the list of terrorist groups is a dangerous step that threatens the security and stability of the Arab countries, while at the same time empowering adventurism from a country, Iran, that the US Congressional Research Service designates among "State Sponsors of Acts of International Terrorism."
These are the same Arabs who had welcomed former US President Donald Trump's decision on January 2, 2021, to designate the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization -- a decision the Biden Administration rescinded in February, about a month later. Just a few days after that, the Houthis attacked Saudi Arabia's Abha International Airport, and a few weeks after that, in early May, the US Navy intercepted a boat carrying " a significant shipment" of Russian arms, presumably from Iran, and bound for the Houthis.
Meanwhile, the Houthis' Palestinian allies, Hamas and PIJ, were now flush with upgraded weapons supplied by Iran, and possibly paid for with some of the billions given Iran by the US. Iran, though in financial straits, has reportedly nevertheless been financing Hamas with $30 million a month "in return for information on Israel's missile capabilities and its missile locations."
Hamas, it appears, interpreted Biden's move as a license to fire thousands of their rockets and missiles at Israel.
Hamas and PIJ seem to see the Biden administration's decision as follows: If the Houthis are no longer a terrorist group and can get away with attacking one of America's major Arab friends, Saudi Arabia, that means we can also launch rockets and missiles into Israel to kill as many Jews as possible.
The terrorist groups seem to believe that the Biden administration is about to throw Israel under the bus and distance itself from the normalization agreements between Israel and several Arab and Muslim countries. They see that the new US administration has done almost nothing to support the normalization agreements or encourage other Arab countries to make peace with Israel.
The terrorist groups are also rubbing their hands with glee as they see the Biden administration and other world powers trying to curry favor with the mullahs in Tehran by engaging in negotiations with them to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, enabling Iran in a few years to have full nuclear capability and ballistic missiles with which to deliver it.
In the past few months, reports have surfaced in a number of Arab media outlets about rapprochement between the Houthi militia and Hamas, Iran's Palestinian proxy in the Gaza Strip. The rapprochement reached its peak when Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh sent a letter to the Houthi leadership praising them and their "role in supporting the Palestinian cause."
According to a recent report, Hamas members have also been fighting alongside the Houthis in Yemen.
The Houthi militia, for its part, welcomed the Hamas leader's letter and said that it comes in the context of thwarting the Abraham Accords between Israel and several Arab and Muslim countries. A senior Houthi leader, Hazam al-Assad, said:
"We share the same feelings with the brothers in Hamas, and we call on the sons of the Islamic nation to unite and take serious and responsible action to thwart the efforts of normalization and rapprochement with the Zionist enemy."
Another Houthi leader, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, last month called on the United Arab Emirates and other countries that had signed normalization agreements with Israel to withdraw from the accords.
Needless to say, Hamas is also vehemently opposed to the Abraham Accords, and its leaders have pledged to work toward foiling any peace agreement between the Arab countries and Israel.
By revoking the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group, the Biden administration sent a message to the Arabs that the US has no problem with Islamists backed by Iran, which, since its Revolution in 1979, has been working to become the dominant force in the region. To this end, it has already made extensive incursions into Iraq, Syria, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank.
If the Houthis -- whose slogan reads "God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam" -- are not seen as terrorists, then why, they and their Iranian sponsor most likely assume, should Hamas, PIJ, Hezbollah and other Islamist groups be seen as terrorists?
The Biden administration has tried to create the impression that Iran's Houthis are the "good terrorists," while Hamas and Hezbollah are the "bad terrorists."
By considering a near wholesale rollback of some of the sanctions imposed on Iran by the Trump administration, the Biden administration seems to have sent a message to Iran to the effect that Washington has no problem with the mullahs' ongoing meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries and support for terrorist groups.
Earlier this year, the Gulf Cooperation Council expressed deep concern over the Houthis' terrorist attacks on Saudi Arabia and called on Iran to stop its efforts to destabilize the security and stability of the Arab countries by supporting terrorists. That appeal, however, appears to have been ignored by the US and other Western powers.
"The Houthis and their Iranian backers think that the American move was the result of their military perseverance and a reflection of their superiority in the field," stated a report by the Emirates Policy Center (EPC).
"Moreover, the two sides (the Houthis and Iran) understood the measure as an indication of the new American administration's soft position towards them and bias against Saudi Arabia and its allies. Based on these messages, the Houthis considered the decision to revoke their designation as a terrorist organization a victory for them and a defeat for their opponents. Such messages enhance Houthis conviction that force is the key factor. This does not only make the Houthis more obstinate towards peace efforts, but also encourages them to escalate militarily.
"As for US allies, the decision by the new American administration showed that Washington does not take threats by the Houthis and Iran seriously, rather it is lenient towards the two. The American decision will add some chill to Washington's ties with its regional allies and put those allies in a state of anxiety and apprehension towards the Biden administration's policies....
"Such a step leaves the impression that the new American administration is confused and lacks the ability to understand reality and make sound assessments... Revoking the Houthi designation without receiving anything in return raises the question about the efficiency of decision-making in this administration. In addition, revoking the designation of Houthis sends a message that Biden might return to Obama's hesitant and weak policy."
Finally, the Biden administration's decision to resume financial aid to the Palestinians without any prior conditions sent a message to the Palestinian Authority implying that the US is about to rescind all the decisions taken by the Trump administration, including the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The Trump administration had cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinians, citing the need "to ensure that these funds are spent in accordance with US national interests and provide value to the US taxpayer."
Buoyed by the decision to resume the financial aid with no conditions attached, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are now convinced that the Biden administration's next move will be to rescind Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That appears why the Palestinians have chosen to call the current wave of attacks on Israel as the "Jerusalem Uprising."
The Biden administration made a mistake by failing to condition the resumption of the aid on an end to Palestinian incitement and violence against Israel. Had the Biden administration demanded an end to the anti-Israel inflammatory statements and actions by Palestinian leaders before handing over funding, it is likely that the current round of violence would never have taken place.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.