NewsBiden administration hits Houthis with terror label after Red Sea havoc

Biden administration hits Houthis with terror label after Red Sea havoc

Biden administration hits Houthis with terror label after Red Sea havoc
Images source: © GETTY | Anadolu
2:34 AM EST, January 18, 2024, updated: 10:11 AM EST, January 18, 2024

In a significant policy shift, the Biden administration has re-designated the Yemen-based Houthi rebels as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" (SDGT) group. This move is in direct response to the Houthis' attacks on international shipping in the vital Red Sea shipping lanes. The SDGT designation imposes stringent sanctions on the Iran-aligned group, targeting their funding and weapon access used in maritime disruptions.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan articulated the rationale behind this decision, emphasizing its role in impeding terrorist funding to the Houthis and restricting their financial market access. Sullivan pointed out that this designation is conditional: if the Houthis cease their attacks, the U.S. will reassess the situation.

The U.S. and British militaries have conducted numerous airstrikes against the Houthis, who control significant parts of Yemen. Recent U.S. military actions included strikes against Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles. Despite these efforts, Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdulsalam conveyed to Reuters their intention to continue operations, stating that these are in support of Palestinians and target Israeli or Israel-bound ships. These attacks are seen as part of a broader resistance movement aligned with Iran.

A crucial aspect of this re-designation is the Biden administration's efforts to minimize its impact on Yemen's civilian population, heavily reliant on imported food and humanitarian aid. To this end, officials have implemented "unprecedented carve-outs and licenses," coupled with a 30-day delay in the designation's implementation. This approach aims to ensure continued commercial shipments of essential goods to Yemen. The Treasury Department will oversee the mitigation of unintended adverse impacts, ensuring the provision of food, medicine, and other vital services.

The ongoing conflict in Yemen, largely seen as a proxy war between Iran and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, has led to a severe humanitarian crisis. Over two-thirds of the Yemeni population requires aid, with widespread difficulties in accessing food, clean water, and healthcare. The U.S. has issued specific licenses authorizing transactions involving the Houthis, including those related to agriculture, medicine, telecommunications, and humanitarian efforts, effective February 16.

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