Sunday, 07 March, 2021


US Designates Yemen's Houthis as Terrorists After Ship Attacks

Yemenis visiting the graves of their two relatives who were killed in the country's ongoing war during the Houthi-held Martyr Week anniversary at a cemetery in Sanaa Yemen last week. The Houthi group is the de facto authority in northern Yemen Pompeo says US to designate Iran-backed Yemeni Houthis a terror group
Bennie Garza | 12 January, 2021, 02:09

The Huthis control much of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, and are already under U.S. sanctions.

"I also intend to designate three of Ansar Allah's leaders, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Din al-Houthi and Abdullah Yahya al Hakim, as specially designated global terrorists", Mr Pompeo said.

It would also deter "malign activity" by their backer Iran, he added. A further 3.6 million are on the brink of starvation, and that could rise to 5 million by June.

The Houthis criticized the USA move via a statement on Monday and said they "have the right to respond to any designation coming from the Trump administration or any other administration".

The Houthis ousted Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in 2015 and despite a Saudi-led war for control of Yemen, still retain swathes of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

Supporters of Ansarallah, also known as the Houthi movement, gather a year ago to commemorate the anniversary of the group's takeover of Yemen's capital, Sanaa.

The UN describes Yemen as the world's largest humanitarian crisis; 80 per cent of its people are reliant on aid and the country is at risk of the worst global starvation in a century.

Late on Sunday, Pompeo announced that his department would notify the Congress of its intention to designate the Yemeni Houthi group, known as Ansar Allah, as a foreign terrorist organization.

Pompeo also said he meant to list three leaders of the Houthi movement, also known as Ansarallah, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

"The designations are also meant to advance efforts to achieve a peaceful, sovereign, and united Yemen that is both free from Iranian interference and at peace with its neighbours".

He pointed to a December 30 attack on an airport in Yemen's second city Aden, which killed 26 people and was blamed by the Saudi-backed government on the Huthis.

Consideration of the designation had already prompted complaints from relief organizations that have warned the sanctions could prove catastrophic for efforts to help starving Yemeni civilians who have been caught in the conflict between the Houthis and the Yemeni government, which is backed by Saudi Arabia.

Pompeo wanted to fast-track the move, according to one diplomatic source, as part of a "scorched-earth policy" as the administration prepares to make way for the incoming Democrat administration.

"In fact, designating the Houthi movement will be perceived as politically motivated and will undermine the credibility of USA counterterrorism programs and policies, which serve as a first line of our nation's defence", they wrote.

Yemen's foreign ministry said it supported the move and called for further "political and legal pressure" on the Houthis, Reuters news agency reported.

"We are planning to put in place measures to reduce their impact on certain humanitarian activity and imports into Yemen". Iran's mission to the United Nations in NY did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had warned against a possible designation, saying Yemen was in imminent danger of entering the worst starvation the world has seen for decades. But Mr Abdi denied this and said that without safeguards and broader exemptions, Yemen's economy would be dealt a devastating blow. "Getting food and medicine into Yemen - a country 80 precent dependent on imports - will become even more hard".

Scott Paul, Oxfam America's Humanitarian Policy Lead, called on Biden to reverse the designation immediately upon entering office, calling the policy counterproductive to peace efforts.

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