Yemen's Houthis to be relisted as terrorist group, report says

Trump administration designated rebel group a foreign terrorist organisation

The US military's Central Command released this image showing what it described as Iranian-made missile components bound for the Houthis, seized off a vessel in the Arabian Sea. Photo: Centcom via AP
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The US administration of President Joe Biden is expected to announce plans to redesignate the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen as specially designated terrorists, AP reported on Tuesday.

The Houthis have launched dozens of attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. Earlier on Tuesday, US forces struck Houthi anti-ship missile launchers in Yemen.

The group says it has attacked the ships in response to Israel's military operations in Gaza after Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken delisted the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organisation and as specially designated global terrorists in February 2021, as the Biden administration sought to make it easier to get humanitarian aid into Yemen.

In its waning days, the Trump administration designated the Houthis a foreign terrorist organisation, despite the strong objections of human rights and humanitarian aid groups.

The foreign terrorist designation barred Americans and people and organisations subject to US jurisdiction from providing “material support” to the Houthis.

The rights groups said this would result in an even greater humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.

Earlier on Tuesday, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned that Washington remains “vigilant” against the possibility that recent violence in the Red Sea may be “on a path of escalation".

But Mr Sullivan, who spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said Washington “sees a pathway” towards working with the Houthis.

“We have to guard against and be vigilant against the possibility that, in fact, rather than heading towards de-escalation, we are on a path of escalation that we have to manage,” Mr Sullivan said.

He said managing regional escalation “to the maximum extent possible” and getting “on a path of diplomacy” remains “ a central locus” of Washington’s strategy in the Middle East amid the continued threat of Israel’s war in Gaza spilling into the wider region.

Ellie Sennett contributed to this report.

Updated: January 17, 2024, 4:52 PM