U.S. plans to designate Yemen’s Houthi movement as foreign terrorist group

Washington – The United States plans to designate Yemen’s Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday.

The decision to blacklist the Iran-aligned group, first reported by Reuters hours earlier, comes as the administration of President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take over from the Trump administration on Jan. 20.

“The Department of State will notify Congress of my intent to designate Ansar Allah, sometimes referred to as the Houthis, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” Pompeo said in a statement late on Sunday.

“I also intend to designate three of Ansar Allah’s leaders, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Din al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya al Hakim, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists”, he said.

The Trump administration has been piling on sanctions related to Iran in recent weeks, prompting some Biden allies and outside analysts to conclude that Trump aides are seeking to make it harder for the incoming administration to re-engage with Iran and rejoin an international nuclear agreement.

Aid groups and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had warned against a possible designation, saying Yemen was in imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades.

Pompeo said the United States planned to put in place measures to reduce the impact of the step on humanitarian activity and imports into Yemen, where 80% of the population needs help.

The foreign ministry of Yemen, which the Houthis ousted from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, supported the designation and called for further “political and legal pressure” on the Houthis.

Based on inputs from Reuters.