U.S. to Revoke Terrorist Designations on Yemen’s Houthis
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. plans to revoke terrorist designations on Yemen’s Houthi rebels put in place near the end of the Trump administration, according to the State Department.
President Joe Biden has been reversing and halting many of the foreign policy initiatives of former President Donald Trump. With the United Nations citing a risk of famine in Yemen, the State Department said the terrorist designations were being revoked for humanitarian reasons.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud on Friday that “elevating human rights issues” and ending the war in Yemen are administration priorities, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
The pair also discussed regional security, fighting terrorism and cooperation to deter attacks on Saudi Arabia, according to the statement.
The Houthis, who are aligned with Iran, have been battling Yemen’s UN-recognized government since 2014. A Saudi Arabia-led coalition intervened the following year on the side of the government. The UN has called the conflict -- in which tens of thousands of people have died -- the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The U.S. classified the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization after the American presidential election, following a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Red Sea.
In its decision on Friday, the State Department acknowledged that Ansarallah, the official name of the Houthi movement, had been responsible for attacks on civilians and the abduction of Americans. But it said the dire situation in Yemen justified the revocation. The UN warned in November that famine might take hold in the country.
Both the Houthis, who are from the north of Yemen, and the government have been accused of restricting relief operations.
The Biden administration is also ending American support for offensive operations in Yemen, following an earlier decision to pause the sale of smart-bomb technology to Saudi Arabia, which has been widely criticized for its conduct in the war. The administration is appointing a special envoy to Yemen charged with helping end the civil war.
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