Trump administration planning to designate Yemen’s Houthis 'terrorists': report

Trump administration planning to designate Yemen’s Houthis 'terrorists': report
To exert more pressure on Iran, which backs Yemen's Houthi rebels, the Trump administration is considering designating the group 'terrorists', a recent report said.
2 min read
17 November, 2020
Trump is reportedly planning to designate the already-sanctioned Houthis 'terrorists'. [Getty]

The administration of incumbent US President Donald Trump is preparing to designate Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels a terrorist organisation before leaving office, Foreign Policy reported on Monday.

Trump's plan would disrupt international aid efforts that are in place to avert Yemen's humanitarian crisis and upend United Nations-brokered peace efforts between the rebels, who control the capital Sanaa, and the exiled Saudi-backed Yemeni government, FP cited diplomatic sources saying.

The move will also give US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a close ally of Trump, another "victory" in his "maximum pressure" anti-Iran policy as he is set to embark on visits to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

Saudi Arabia, which has already designated the Houthis a terrorist organisation, Yemen and the US have accused Iran of providing weapons and military expertise to assist the rebels in developing missiles that have for years rained on the neighbouring kingdom.

Iran has long-insisted on denying claims it is supporting the rebels in Yemen with weapons.

"They have been contemplating this for a while, but Pompeo wants this fast-tracked," one diplomatic source told FP. "It's part of the scorched-earth policy the sour grapes in the White House are taking."

Read also: Biden and the Saudi quagmire in Yemen

The US Department of Defense and career experts in the State Department are reportedly against the move.

International charities are also preparing a joint statement warning of a humanitarian catastrophe if the legal change is made.

"The Houthis and their financial supporters are already subject to US sanctions, so the practical impact of the designation would be exclusively to make it more difficult to negotiate with Houthi leaders and to deliver aid to Houthi-controlled areas, where the majority of Yemenis still live," Chris Murphy, a Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the outlet.

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