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U.S. Designates Yemen’s Houthi Rebels as Global Terrorists 

The United States is set to re-designate Yemen’s Houthi rebels as “global terrorists” in 30 days.

The decision, announced by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, aims to counter the Iran-backed group’s attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

From mid-February, the United States will consider the Houthis a “specially designated global terrorist” group. The Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken made this clear in a statement on Wednesday, adding that the Houthis will be denied access to the global financial system. They are equally banned from US soils. This connotes a reversal of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s 2021 decision to remove the Houthis from the U.S. Specially Designated Global Terrorist List- a decision criticized by some as a display of weakness.

The looming re-designation comes in response to weeks of Houthi missile and drone attacks on the Red Sea, impacting global shipping and prompting a U.S. military response. While holding the Houthis accountable for their actions, the Biden administration emphasizes the need to balance this with ensuring the flow of humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people, who have endured a prolonged civil war and humanitarian crisis.

This explains why the Houthis were not assigned a more severe designation -that of a “foreign terrorist organization”. That would have meant potential complications with humanitarian aid. The Biden administration assures that licenses will be issued to authorize certain transactions related to food, medicine, fuel, and essential services for the Yemeni people.

Despite the designation, however, the Houthis have vowed to continue their maritime attacks, particularly targeting Israeli ships. Biden officials stress that if the Houthis cease their attacks, the designation could be re-evaluated.

“If the Houthis seize their attacks in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the United States will immediately re-evaluate this designation,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Certainly, the ongoing conflict in Yemen is getting exacerbated by regional interventions.

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