The United States re-designated the Houthi militant group as a terrorist organization on Wednesday, once again labeling it a so-called Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT).
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement that the designation was in response to the Houthis’ continued threats to and attacks on “United States military forces and international maritime vessels operating in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.”Sullivan said the designation will “impede terrorist funding to the Houthis, further restrict their access to financial markets, and hold them accountable for their actions.” He added that if the Houthis cease their attacks, “the United States will immediately reevaluate this designation.
“The designation will become effective in 30 days, Sullivan said. The intervening time between now and when the designation become effective will allow the United States to “ensure robust humanitarian carve outs are in place so our action targets the Houthis and not the people of Yemen,” he added.
A senior administration official said during a call with reporters that the Houthi attacks on international shipping were “a clear example of terrorism in a violation of international law and a major threat to lives and global commerce,” adding that “they jeopardize the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”The “ultimate goal” of the U.S. action, the official said, is “to convince the Houthis to deescalate and bring about a positive change in behavior.”
The official said the United States “can consider de-listing this designation” in the event that the Houthis cease their attacks.Another administration official told the briefing that the Treasury Department will issue five “broad general licenses” authorizing transactions related to food, medicine and medical devices, along with fuel, personal remittances, telecommunications and the operation of ports and airports.
A third administration official told reporters that instead of re-listing the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), the United States considered the SDGT designation “an appropriate tool at the moment,” helping Washington achieve its “desired foreign policy effect while minimizing unintended consequences.”On Jan. 10, 2021, the U.S. administration of then President Donald Trump rolled out one of its last foreign policies by designating the Houthis as an FTO. The Houthis were already designated as an SDGT at the time.In February 2021, the Joe Biden administration revoked both of the two designations, saying the decision was “a recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.”