The United States plans to designate Yemen’s Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, a move that diplomats and aid groups worry could threaten peace talks and complicate efforts to combat the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
The decision to blacklist the Iran-aligned group, first reported by Reuters hours earlier, comes as the administration of President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take over from the Trump administration on Jan. 20.
A Houthi leader said in a Twitter post that the movement, which has been battling a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since 2015, reserved the right to respond to any designation. [D5N2GH02Q]
“The Department of State will notify Congress of my intent to designate Ansar Allah, sometimes referred to as the Houthis, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” Pompeo said in a statement late on Sunday.
“I also intend to designate three of Ansar Allah’s leaders, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Din al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya al Hakim, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists”, he said.
The Trump administration has been piling on sanctions related to Iran in recent weeks, prompting some Biden allies and outside analysts to conclude that Trump aides are seeking to make it harder for the incoming administration to re-engage with Iran and rejoin an international nuclear agreement.