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Ottawa played a “front role” in the raids targeting the Houthis, a leader of the Yemeni movement told Radio-Canada.

The Houthis do not plan a response against Canada | Middle East, the eternal conflict

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A Houthi supporter brandishes his rifle during a protest against recent US-led strikes on rebel targets near Sanaa.

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The Houthis are not considering retaliation against Canada for its support for strikes recently carried out by American and British forces against Houthi positions across Yemen, said an official of the Yemeni group in an interview with Radio-Canada. p>

The Houthis, who control large swaths of Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa, have in recent weeks increased attacks on ships they suspect of being linked to Israel, disrupting traffic maritime in this essential area for world trade.

They claim to be acting in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, while the enclave is besieged by Israel has been under intense bombardment since the Hamas attack on October 7.

In response, American and British forces claimed to have struck Houthi targets in several regions of Yemen in recent days, reinforcing fears of a regional spread of the war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas in Gaza.

These strikes received support from Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed last Friday, who specified that the Canadian Armed Forces had contributed to the planning and supervision of the operation against the Houthis.

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Canadian officials have said the United States has asked its allies to provide ships, planes and operational personnel, but a Department of National Defense spokesperson said Ottawa has not provided, in immediately, only three staff officers.

In addition to Canada, Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and South Korea had said they supported the American-British strikes with the aim of restoring stability in the Red Sea. The allies assure that they will not hesitate to defend lives and protect trade in this essential sea lane.

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An image released on January 12, 2024 shows the Typhoon aircraft returning to RAF Akrotori air base on the island of Cyprus after striking military targets in Yemen during a US-led coalition operation.

But Abdel Malek Al-Ejri, a member of the political bureau of the Ansar Allah group in Yemen – the official name of those commonly known as the Houthis – has minimized Canada's role in this operation.

The raids were primarily carried out by the United States and the United Kingdom. Their allies, including Canada, only played a facade role.

A quote from Abdel Malek Al-Ejri, Houthi leader

Al-Ejri, who is also deputy chief negotiator in peace talks aimed at ending the war that has ravaged Yemen since 2014, says his movement has no plans to retaliate against Canada or other countries for their secondary role in the strikes.

An American cargo ship was hit on Monday by a missile fired, according to Washington, by the Houthis in off Yemen, the day after another attack which targeted an American destroyer in the southern Red Sea, also attributed to the Yemeni group.

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A Houthi military helicopter flies over the cargo ship Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea in this photo published on November 20.

Mr. Al-Ejri confirmed to Radio-Canada that the attack on the M/V Gibraltar Eagle, a cargo ship flying the flag of the Marshall Islands and owned by an American shipowner, is a response to American-British raids against Houthi positions in Yemen.

He also accuses the Biden administration of wanting to widen the conflict in the region by trying to involve other countries in this conflict.

New Democratic Party (NDP) foreign affairs critic MP Heather McPherson called the Liberal government's decision to support raids on Yemen dangerous.

Canada should push for a ceasefire in Gaza. Instead, liberals are joining in another military action without any idea of ​​what might happen next, including the damage it might do to the Yemen peace process, she wrote on Platform X, warning of a widening of the conflict in the region.

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Yemenis receive humanitarian aid at a camp in Khokha district, Hodeida province.

But for Mr. Al-Ejri, peace talks towards a permanent truce in Yemen are continuing, despite rising tensions in the Red Sea.

From our point of view, these are two different issues, he explains. Negotiations to end the war in Yemen continue and should not be linked to the conflict in the region. That's what we told UN officials.

However, he says he fears that Washington will try to derail this process to disrupt peace in the region.

Two years ago, the United States removed the Houthis from its blacklist of terrorist organizations in an effort to alleviate the humanitarian crisis affecting this country, one of the poorest in the world. The main Houthi leaders, however, remained on the blacklist in a personal capacity.

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Houthi supporters gathered after the US-British offensive on Friday, January 12 in Sanaa, Yemen.

The war between the Houthis and government forces, backed by an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia, began in 2014. Since then, hundreds of thousands have died and millions have been displaced, in addition to colossal challenges like epidemics, acute hunger and an economic collapse, against a backdrop of declining international aid.

To the question of whether Canada is considering place the Houthis on its list of terrorist entities, a spokesperson for the Minister of Public Security, Dominic LeBlanc, remained vague on the subject.

For an entity to be added to the list, explicit criteria must be met, indicates Jean-Sébastien Comeau in a written response by email. The evaluation of entities for possible inclusion on the Criminal Code list is ongoing and the process is rigorous, thorough and involves interdepartmental consultations.

He also affirms that Ottawa is working closely with its allies to refine and coordinate efforts to combat new terrorist threats, without however specifying whether discussions are underway concerning Houthis.

With information from Agence France-Presse, La Presse canadienne and Reuters

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