US to take Houthis off terror blacklist in effort to ease Yemen’s famine

Sat, 6 February 2021, 10:51 am

The United States has said it will take Yemen’s Houthi rebels off its terrorist list in a bid to alleviate the country’s humanitarian crisis.

The reversal comes a day after Biden announced an end to US support for the Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen.

The Houthis were placed on a terror blacklist by former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on 19 January – a day before President Joe Biden took office – in a move that was widely criticised.

A State Department spokesperson said the reversal of that decision would not change how the US viewed the Houthis and their “reprehensible” attacks on civilians.

“Our action is due entirely to the humanitarian consequences of this last-minute designation from the prior administration,” the spokesperson said.

Yemen’s six-year war has killed tens of thousands of people in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

Aid groups say they are forced to deal with the Houthis, Yemen’s de facto government, and that the terrorist designation puts them at risk of prosecution in the US.

The UN has welcomed the removal of the group’s terrorist label, saying it would “provide profound relief to millions of Yemenis who rely on humanitarian assistance and commercial imports to meet their basic survival needs.”