Yemen: US removes Houthis from terrorist list

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinkan announced over the weekend that starting this Tuesday, the Houthi rebel group in Yemen would be removed from the list of US foreign terrorist organizations. “This decision is a recognition of the difficult humanitarian situation in Yemen,” Blinkan wrote in an official statement. “We have heeded the warnings of the United Nations, human rights organizations and members of Congress who have argued that this definition could have a devastating effect on Yemeni people’s access to basic goods such as food and fuel. The abolition of the definition is intended to ensure that US policy does not interfere with assistance to those who are already suffering from what has already been called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Last Friday, the UN released an inconceivable report, stating that at least 400,000 Yemeni children under the age of five could die of malnutrition within the next year, amid a severe shortage of food resulting from six years of war, which has worsened in the past year due to the corona crisis. . The report notes that in 2021, at least a 22% increase in acute malnutrition among children is expected compared to 2020, noting that the most affected areas include Eden, Khodayde, Taiz and Sanaa, the capital (all Houthi-controlled areas). Nearly 80% of the Yemeni population now lives below the poverty line, meaning earning less than two dollars a day.

Despite much opposition precisely because of humanitarian concerns, the administration declared the Houthis a terrorist organization in January, and the decision went into effect on the 19th of the month, just one day before Joe Biden was sworn in as president. In addition to the organization itself, which is supported by Iran, three of its leaders have also entered the US terror list, including leader ‘Abd al-Malek al-Houthi. Blinkan did denounce them as terrorists, but said they would remain under sanctions “for acts that threaten Yemen’s peace, security and stability.”

Blinkan further noted that the United States “will continue to closely monitor the activities of Ansar Allah (the official name of the organization, ‘Supporters of God’, MK). The United States will also continue to support the implementation of sanctions imposed on its members by the United Nations, to draw attention to the organization’s appellant activities and to pressure it to change its behavior. “The United States remains open about Ansar Allah’s malicious and aggressive actions, including taking control of large areas of Yemen and attacking American partners in the Gulf.”

It should be noted that about ten days ago, Biden announced that the United States would end its support for Saudi offensive operations in Yemen, including the cessation of the sale of weapons intended for this purpose. The next day, the State Department announced that the United States planned to remove the Houthis from the list of terrorist organizations. In his remarks, Blinken stressed that the United States “remains committed to helping our Gulf partners defend themselves against threats, including against threats from Yemen, many of which are carried out with Iranian support. We will increase our efforts to end the war itself. There is no military solution to this conflict. We call on all parties to work for a sustainable political solution. “

Yesterday (Saturday), Riyadh announced that it had succeeded in thwarting a Houthi drone attack on the Abha airport in southeastern Saudi Arabia. Last Wednesday, the Houthis managed to hit the airport, and the next day they failed again. Yemen’s special envoy for Yemen, Tim Landkering, was sent last week for talks in Saudi Arabia.