Yemen Slams Biden's Decision to Remove Terror Designation of Houthi Militia

Yemen's government has said that the US administration's intention to revoke the designation of the Houthi militia as a "Foreign Terrorist Organisation" would complicate the country's years-long crisis.

Information Minister Muammar Iryani said in a statement on Sunday that the revocation "sends a wrong messages to the rebel group and its Iranian backers by giving them more courage to continue their violent military approach", reports Xinhua news agency.

The Minister said the move by President Joe Biden's administration "will contribute to complicating the Yemeni crisis, prolonging the coup, and will exacerbate the humanitarian suffering caused by the years-long war that was waged by the militias".

On February 5, a US State Department official confirmed that Secretary of State Antony Blinken intends to remove the Houthi group from the "Foreign Terrorist Organizations" list and had notified Congress of this intention.

Humanitarian Aid

According to critics, the designation, which was announced by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on January 11, could hinder efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to areas under the militia's control.

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A Houthi militant carries his weapon during the funerals of Lutf al-Quhum, a prominent pro-Houthi religious singer, and a Houthi fighter in Yemen's capital Sanaa, February 18, 2016 Reuters

In his first foreign policy speech since taking office in January, Biden said on February 4 that the US will end its support for offensive operations in the Yemen conflict and that his country would step up diplomacy and support UN-led initiative to end the war.

"We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales," the President said in his first major foreign policy speech since taking office last month.

Saudi Arabia
A girl and women who fled with their families from Yemen's war-torn Houthi-controlled northern province of Saada attend a party at a school sheltering them in Yemen's capital Sanaa August 22, 2015. A Saudi-led Arab alliance launched a military campaign on March 26 to end Houthi control over much of Yemen and to return President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from exile. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah Reuters

According to figures released by the UN in December 2020, more than 230,000 Yemenis have died in the six-year-old war, mostly because of a lack of food, health services and infrastructure.

Yemen has been mired in civil war since late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized control of several northern provinces and forced the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of the capital Sanaa.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in the Yemen conflict in March 2015 to support Hadi's government.

The war in Yemen has pushed the country to the brink of famine.