US Designates Houthis A Terrorist Organization

The State Department has formally designated the Houthis as a terrorist organization, which gives Washington new powers to thwart the group’s access to the global financial system.

The new label of Specially Designated Global Terrorist group against the Yemeni Shia rebel militia backed by Iran was implemented Friday, coming weeks after a mid-January warning was issued by the State Department.

Image source: Associated Press

It also comes following months of Houthi drone and missile attacks on both commercial vessels and Western warships patrolling the Red Sea. 

On Thursday in the latest response, the US military struck three Houthi anti-ship cruise missile systems that US Central Command (CENTCOM) said were preparing to launch.

The new designation is controversial among some humanitarian aid groups working in Yemen, as detailed in The New York Times

Last month, Mr. Blinken announced the State Department’s intent to return the Houthis to its terrorism list, but delayed the action for 30 days. The pause was intended in part to give humanitarian aid groups working in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen time to ensure that their work does not run afoul of new sanctions from the United States that will punish anyone who provides support to the militant group. Some aid groups have warned that their work will inevitably be constrained in a country with dire humanitarian needs.

The Houthis were removed from the list in 2021 after they were first designated previously under the Trump administration, also given they have long been armed and backed financially by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A move by Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s February of 2021 had taken the Houthis off the list. “Effective February 16, I am revoking the designations of Ansarallah, sometimes referred to as the Houthis, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO)…,” the US top diplomat said at the time.

Blinken had said the removal was in “recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. We have listened to warnings from the United Nations, humanitarian groups, and bipartisan members of Congress, among others, that the designations could have a devastating impact on Yemenis’ access to basic commodities like food and fuel.”

This new reversal presumably means the already dire humanitarian situation in the country is about to get a lot worse once again, though long largely ignored in Western media headlines.


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