US to withdraw terrorist designation for the Houthi movement in Yemen

The United States said on Friday 5th February 2021 that it intends to repeal the terrorist designation for Yemen’s Houthi movement due to the country’s humanitarian crisis, correcting one of the most criticized hasty decisions of the Trump administration.

The reversal has been confirmed by a State Department official. It comes a day after President Joe Biden announced that U.S. support for the Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen will be withdrawn, widely seen as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The official stated, “Our action is due entirely to the humanitarian consequences of this last-minute designation from the prior administration, which the United Nations and humanitarian organizations have since made clear would accelerate the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

The United Nations has said that Yemen is the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of its people in distress.

“We welcome the stated intention by the U.S. administration to revoke the designation as it will provide profound relief to millions of Yemenis who rely on humanitarian assistance and commercial imports to meet their basic survival needs,” said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blacklisted the Houthis on 19th January, a day before Biden’s inauguration.

The Trump administration excluded aid groups, the United Nations, the Red Cross and the export of agricultural commodities, medicine and medical devices from its appointment. But U.N. officials and relief groups said the cuts were not sufficient and called for the designation to be cancelled.

The State Department official emphasized that the action did not reflect the U.S. outlook of the Houthis and their “reprehensible conduct.”

The Saudi-led military union got involved in Yemen in 2015, supporting government forces fighting the Iran-aligned Houthis. U.N. officials are attempting to reintroduce peace talks as the country also faces an economic crisis with the global pandemic of COVID-19.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy welcomed the decision. “The designation stopped food and other critical aid from being delivered inside Yemen and would have prevented effective political negotiation,” he said in a statement.

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