US Reversing Iran-Backed Houthi Movement’s Terrorist Group Designation

(Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Andrew Jose Contributor
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The United States will revoke the terrorist designation of the Iran-backed Houthis militia group in Yemen, the Biden administration announced Friday.

“After a comprehensive review, we can confirm that [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] intends to revoke the Foreign Terrorist Organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist designations of Ansarallah,” a State Department spokesperson said, FOX News reported. “We have formally notified Congress of the Secretary’s intent to revoke these designations and will share more details in the coming days.” 

Ansar Allah is the official name of the Houthi movement, whose slogan in Arabic reads “Death to America! Death to Israel! A curse upon the Jews! Victory for Islam!”

An unnamed State Department official said that the undoing of the designation doesn’t excuse the Houthis’ conduct, including attacks against civilians and the kidnapping of Americans, but doing so is supposedly essential to solving the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, The New York Times reported.

Less than two weeks before leaving office, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the Trump administration’s decision to designate the Houthis as a terrorist group, a move that went into effect a day before Biden’s inauguration, CNN reported. Several diplomats and lawmakers criticized the designation, warning that it could hamper efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in war-torn Yemen. About 80% of Yemen’s 30 million people live in Houthi-controlled regions trapped amid widespread poverty and civil war, according to the Times.

Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut welcomed the removal of the terrorist designation, claiming it would “save lives.”

“The designation did not impact the Houthis in any practical way, but it stopped food and other critical aid from being delivered inside Yemen and would have prevented effective political negotiation,” Murphy said, according to the Times.

“We welcome the stated intention by the U.S. [Biden] administration to revoke the designation as it

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the move “will provide profound relief to millions of Yemenis who rely on humanitarian assistance and commercial imports to meet their basic survival needs,” according to Reuters(RELATED: UN Workers May Have Stolen Millions Worth Of Humanitarian Aid For Themselves)

The Houthis are an Iranian-backed group fighting against Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

The country’s humanitarian crisis is reportedly the worst in the world due to widespread hunger, disease, and attacks on civilians resulting from the prolonged conflict, which according to analysts, is more of an Iranian-Saudi proxy war than a civil war.