Biden reverses Trump's designation of Houthis as terrorists

Nicosia - Designation of movement as terrorist organisation would have had devastating impact on Yemenis’ access to basic commodities.


Published: Mon 15 Feb 2021, 10:53 AM

Last updated: Mon 15 Feb 2021, 11:33 AM

Recognising the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen, Joe Biden’s US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, announced last Friday the reversal of former President Trump’s designation of Ansarallah (the Houthis Movement) as a foreign terrorist organisation and specially designated global terrorist group. The decision would come into effect on February 16.

Two weeks before stepping down, President Trump, designated Houthis as a terrorist group, disregarding the fact such a decision could lead to the death of thousands of starving Yemenis.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had stressed a few days earlier that Yemen was “in immediate danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades.”

Many international humanitarian organisations, such as “Save the Children” had made it clear that the decision would be catastrophic for countless children and their families in Yemen. Aid organisations argued that they have no choice but to deal with the Houthis, who are the de facto government in 80 per cent of Yemen, and that the designation would put them at risk of prosecution in the United States.

Trump’s decision already has had a chilling effect on humanitarian workers and importers of food, who would be risking prosecution if their goods fall into Houthis hands.

Announcing the reversal of the designation, Antony Blinken said: “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...By focusing on alleviating the humanitarian situation in Yemen, we hope the Yemeni parties can also focus on engaging in dialogue.”

The new US administration made it clear that, although Ansarallah was removed from the terror blacklist, three of the movement’s key leaders would remain under sanction. Furthermore, it stressed that it does not forget Ansarallah’s “malign actions and aggression, its crimes and repression of the people of Yemen and the attacks against US partners in the Gulf.”

There is no doubt that Biden’s decision to revoke the Houthis’ designation has prevented the acceleration of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, but the situation of famine in Yemen, the poorest Arab country, with about 30 million people, continues to be critical.


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