U.S. to review Houthi terrorist label, says Blinken

Antony Blinken   | Photo Credit: AP

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration will quickly revisit the designation of Yemen’s Houthi rebels as terrorists and end support to the devastating Saudi offensive on the country, his pick for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said on Tuesday.

At his confirmation hearing, Mr. Blinken said he would “immediately” review the outgoing Trump administration’s labelling of the Iran-linked insurgents, fearing the move was worsening a humanitarian crisis.

“At least on its surface, (the designation) seems to achieve nothing particularly practical in advancing the efforts against the Houthis and to bring them back to the negotiating table while making it even more difficult than it already is to provide humanitarian assistance to people who desperately need it,” Mr. Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced the move on January 11.

Mr. Trump has been a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia, offering U.S. logistical help and military sales for its six-year campaign to dislodge the rebels who have taken over much of the neighbouring country.

Mr. Blinken said that the Saudis have “contributed to what is by most accounts the worst humanitarian situation anywhere in the world”.

“The Houthis bear significant responsibility for what’s happened in Yemen, but the way the campaign has been conducted has also contributed significantly to that situation. And so our support should end,” Mr. Blinken said.

The United Nations and aid groups have warned the terrorist designation risks worsening the plight of a country where millions depend on aid to survive. The designation took effect on Tuesday, with the Houthis warning that they would respond to any action against them.

“We are ready to take all necessary measures against any hostile act,” they said in a statement. On Wednesday, hundreds of supporters of the Houthi rebels took to the streets of the capital Sanaa to protest against the terror designation.

“We’ve come out to say the United States is the mother of terrorism and doesn’t have the right to classify anyone as terrorist,” a demonstrator said.

Hizam al-Assad, a member of the Houthis’ political office, condemned “the continued aggression against the Yemeni people by U.S. administrations”.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 12:51:14 PM |

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