The United States will officially remove the Iran-backed Houthi militia and its leaders from its terror lists next week, a statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday.
Blinken said the decision was a result of the “dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.”
“The revocations are intended to ensure that relevant US policies do not impede assistance to those already suffering what has been called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” Blinken added.
Effective February 16, I am revoking the terrorist designations recently imposed on Ansarallah. We must deliver humanitarian assistance and commercial imports into Yemen. We remain focused on Ansarallah’s malign activity and are identifying additional targets for designation.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) February 12, 2021
Washington hopes that the move will encourage warring sides to engage in dialogue.
But the Houthis continue to carry out malign activity, Blinken said.
This includes taking control of large areas of Yemen by force, attacking US partners in the Gulf, kidnapping and torturing citizens of the US and many of its allies, diverting humanitarian aid and brutally repressing Yemenis in areas they control.
Pictures of the wreckage from the explosive drone that tried to target Abha Int’l Airport today. This latest Houthi terrorist attack, which endangered the lives of hundreds of civilians from different nationalities, is a war crime and a flagrant violation of international law. pic.twitter.com/FTAZ4U4Rw6— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) February 10, 2021
Nevertheless, Blinken said the US would continue to designate individuals that launch missile attacks into Saudi Arabia.
“Actions and intransigence” by the Houthis prolongs the war in Yemen and “exact serious humanitarian costs,” he said.
Houthi leaders will no longer be designated terrorists
The carefully worded statement on Friday said that that Blinken would also revoke the designation of the Houthis as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
“Effective February 16, I am revoking the designations of Ansarallah, sometimes referred to as the Houthis, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under the Immigration and Nationality Act and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended,” Blinken said.
Under the original designation, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sanctioned Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Din al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya al Hakim as SDGTs.
Friday’s announcement will strip the leaders of the SDGT designation. Blinken said the leaders would still be sanctioned, but it appears that this will only apply to the Treasury Department sanctions issued in 2015.
Those sanctions were issued “for being a political or military leader of a group that has engaged in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen and for engaging in such acts, respectively.”