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US Will Designate Houthis in Yemen as Terror Organization
Supporters of Yemen’s Houthi rebels are shown in 2015 protesting against Saudi airstrikes on the capital Sanaa. (Wikimedia Commons)

US Will Designate Houthis in Yemen as Terror Organization

The United States plans to officially designate the Houthis in Yemen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement Sunday in a statement that used the Iran-backed rebel group’s official name, Ansar Allah.

Pompeo also said that he would designate three of the Houthi’s leaders – Abdul Malik al-Houthi, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Din al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya al Hakim – as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

“These designations will provide additional tools to confront terrorist activity and terrorism by Ansar Allah, a deadly Iran-backed militia group in the Gulf region. The designations are intended to hold Ansar Allah accountable for its terrorist acts, including cross-border attacks threatening civilian populations, infrastructure and commercial shipping,” Pompeo said.

“The designations are also intended to advance efforts to achieve a peaceful, sovereign, and united Yemen that is both free from Iranian interference and at peace with its neighbors. Progress in addressing Yemen’s instability can only be made when those responsible for obstructing peace are held accountable for their actions,” he added.

The Houthis on Monday condemned the US move and said they have the right to respond. “These policies represent a crisis in thinking and are to be condemned, and we have the right to respond,” Houthi political commander Mohamed Ali al-Houthi said in a tweet. He said that the Trump Administration is “a partner in killing Yemenis and starving them.”

The designations will come into effect on January 19, a day before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Humanitarian groups have expressed concern that the designation will affect relief work, including deliveries of food and fuel.

The Houthis control the Yemeni capital of Sanaa and the north of the country.

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