Regional News • Middle East

US ‘terrorist’ designation of Yemen’s Houthis comes into effect

Just days before the now-former President Donald Trump was set to leave office, his administration announced plans to label the Houthis a “foreign terrorist organization” – effectively barring US citizens and entities from interacting financially with the group.

The designation came into effect on Tuesday, just as the US Treasury Department released details of limited licensing exemptions to the restrictions. For months, international aid groups providing much-needed aid to civilians hard hit by a devastating conflict in Yemen have warned that their work could be disrupted by the US designation of the Houthis – and urged the Trump administration not to do it. But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on January 10 said the measure aimed “to hold Ansarallah accountable for its terrorist acts, including cross-border attacks threatening civilian populations, infrastructure, and commercial shipping”.

Human rights and humanitarian groups, as well as US lawmakers, are also urging the recently inaugurated US President Joe Biden to rescind the designation. The United Nations’ humanitarian chief last week called for the US to reverse the decision, saying it could lead to “large-scale famine on a scale that we have not seen for nearly 40 years”.

Biden’s incoming national security adviser also recently criticized the move.

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