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FILE PHOTO: U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, December 15, 2023. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, December 15, 2023. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura/File Photo

Biden Administration Re-Designates Houthis as Terrorist Group

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 835
January 17, 2024

The United States has announced the re-designation of the Yemen-based group Ansarallah, also known as the Houthis, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). This move comes in response to a series of unprecedented attacks carried out by the Houthi militants against U.S. military forces and international shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made the announcement, stating that the attacks by the militants have endangered U.S. personnel, civilian mariners, and partners, while also jeopardizing global trade and threatening freedom of navigation.

“These attacks fit the textbook definition of terrorism,” said Sullivan.

Since November, the Houthis have carried nearly 30 attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandab Strait, and Gulf of Aden, in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. The attacks have forced many shipping companies to reroute their fleets around the Cape of Good Hope, adding to transit times and pushing freight rates higher. The Houthis have continued to launch attacks even after military strikes by the U.S. and Britain on multiple targets in Yemen, demonstrating that the group remains undeterred.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken previously removed the Houthis’ SDGT designation and de-listed it as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in February 2021 due to concerns the designation would impede assistance to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen after it was designated by the Trump administration in its final weeks. The group has remained sanctioned under an Obama-era executive order related to acts that threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen.

At the time of the revocation, Secretary Blinken said the administration “will continue to closely monitor the activities of Ansarallah and its leaders and are actively identifying additional targets for designation, especially those responsible for explosive boat attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea and UAV and missile attacks into Saudi Arabia.”

The newly-announced designation, which will take effect in 30 days, aims to impede terrorist funding to the Houthis, restrict their access to financial markets, and hold them accountable for their actions. However, if the Houthis were to cease their attacks, the U.S. has said it would immediately reevaluate this designation, Sullivan said.

This time around, the U.S. intends to put robust humanitarian carve outs in place so that the sanctions target the Houthis and not the Yemeni people. For example, commercial shipments into Yemeni ports, which are crucial sources of food, medicine, and fuel for the Yemeni people, are not covered by the sanctions.

“The people of Yemen should not pay the price for the actions of the Houthis,” said Sullivan. “We are sending a clear message: commercial shipments into Yemeni ports on which the Yemeni people rely for food, medicine and fuel should continue and are not covered by our sanctions. This is in addition to the carveouts we include in all sanctions programs for food, medicine, and humanitarian assistance.”

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