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US to designate Iran-backed Houthis as terrorist organization: Pompeo

The United States will designate the Iran-backed Houthi militia as a terrorist organization, and three of its leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an official statement on Monday.

“The Department of State will notify Congress of my intent to designate Ansarallah – sometimes referred to as the Houthis – as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity, pursuant to Executive Order 13224,” the statement cited Pompeo as saying.

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“I also intend to designate three of Ansarallah’s leaders, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Din al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya al Hakim, as SDGTs,” the statement added.

The decision to designate the leaders as SDGTs “will provide additional tools to confront [the group’s] terrorist activity and terrorism,” and hold the Houthis accountable for their terrorist acts, according to Pompeo.

The move also comes as part of efforts to “achieve a peaceful, sovereign, and united Yemen that is both free from Iranian interference and at peace with its neighbors,” he added.

The Iran-backed militia has been leading a “brutal campaign” that has killed hundreds of people and destabilized the region, the statement revealed.

Last week, the Yemeni army killed and captured several Houthi militiamen after an infiltration attempt northwest of Saada.

The attempted attack came only a week after a missile was fired on Aden’s airport, killing at least 25 people and injuring over 100 others.

Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed told the Associated Press earlier this month that the “techniques” used in attack were hallmarks of the Houthis’ strategy.

“Rather than distance itself from the Iranian regime, it has embraced the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism even more.”

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) supplies the Houthis with missiles, drones, and training, allowing the group to target airports and other critical infrastructure, the statement said.

Iran backs the Houthis in Yemen’s civil war against the internationally-recognized government.

Impact on humanitarian aid

Humanitarian groups had previously voiced concerns that such a move would impact efforts to provide humanitarian aid to hundreds of civilians in need in Yemen.

However, the US is planning to put in place measures that would reduce the impact on certain humanitarian activity and imports to Yemen, Pompeo said.

“We have expressed our readiness to work with relevant officials at the United Nations, with international and non-governmental organizations, and other international donors to address these implications.”

“As part of this effort, simultaneously with the implementation of these designations on January 19, 2021 the US Department of the Treasury is prepared to provide licenses pursuant to its authorities, and corresponding guidance that relate to the official activities of the United States government in Yemen, including assistance programming that continues to be the largest of any donor and the official activities of certain international organizations such as the United Nations,” the statement said.

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