The US Department of State is considering reversing the decision to designate Houthi rebels in Yemen as a terrorist organization. That decision was taken last week, in the last days of the Trump administration.
A spokesman for the Ministry now says, after President Biden took office, that the terrorist status of the Houthis is being “evaluated”. This will happen as soon as possible in view of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Minister Pompeo dismissed the Houthis last week as terrorists, partly because he holds them responsible for attacks on ships in the Gulf region and on oil installations in Saudi Arabia. Terrorist status frees up resources to impose tougher sanctions against the movement.
Aid organisations immediately warned that the decision could lead to an escalation of the conflict in Yemen and thus to an increase in the humanitarian crisis. The United Nations also called on the US to reverse the decision.
Bloody Civil War
In Yemen, the government and the Houthi rebels have been involved in a bloody civil war for over six years, which also has major geopolitical consequences. The government is militarily supported by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which in turn is an ally of the US. The Houthis are getting support from Iran.
The war has certainly killed tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians and put millions of people on the run. According to the UN, the situation in Yemen is the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world. 80% of Yemenites would need emergency aid.