In a statement late Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the Department of State will present to the United States Congress its intention to designate Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthis, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Backed by the terror-sponsoring regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Houthi rebel group, formally known as the Supreme Political Council, has been fighting a deadly civil war against the Saudi-Arabian backed Cabinet of Yemen, also known as the Hadi-led government of Yemini President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.
As the Biden administration is set to take office on Jan. 20, the Trump administration has taken actions to bring increasing sanctions against the Iranian regime in a bid to maximize policy objectives in the remaining days of the administration.
Facing an evolving and worsening humanitarian crisis, the move has been criticized by several aid groups and diplomats, expressing concerns the blacklisting could make delivering and distributing aid to civilians more difficult as famine ensues as a result of the conflict which began in 2014.
In response to criticism for the move, Pompeo stated the United States has implemented measures to curtail effects of the designation on humanitarian efforts in the peninsular nation.
With 80 percent of the population dependent on foreign aid, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought further devastation to the Yemini healthcare system, healthcare workers and the population itself, reports Reuters.
Released late Sunday, the Secretary of State announced in a statement that, “These designations will provide additional tools to confront terrorist activity and terrorism by Ansarallah, a deadly Iran-backed militia group in the Gulf region. The designations are intended to hold Ansarallah [Houthi rebels] accountable for its terrorist acts, including cross-border attacks threatening civilian populations, infrastructure, and commercial shipping.”
Ousted from the Yemini capitol of Sanaa in late 2014, the internationally recognized Hadi government has backed the designation, calling for further action to be taken against Houthi forces.
The Houthis stated they “reserve the right to respond to any designation issued by the Trump administration or any administration,” and have stated “The policy of the Trump administration and its behavior is terrorist,” reported the Algemeiner.
In addition to the blacklisting, the Trump administration has taken several actions against the Iranian regime in recent weeks including weapons sales with Saudi Arabia in a move to push for Israeli-Saudi ties in the larger campaign for Arab-Israeli cooperation as a strategic alliance against Iran.