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U.S. reinstates terrorist organization status for Houthi rebels

U.S. reinstates terrorist organization status for Houthi rebels Photo: National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (Getty Images)

The United States of America has once again designated the Houthi rebels as part of the global terrorist organizations list. This decision comes in response to their attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea, according to the statement by Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor to the White House.

According to Sullivan, in recent months, Yemeni Houthi militants have carried out unprecedented attacks on the United States military forces and international maritime vessels operating in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. These attacks fall under the conventional definition of terrorism, as stated in the announcement.

Sullivan pointed out that the actions of the Houthis pose a threat to American personnel, civilian sailors, and their partners. Furthermore, these attacks jeopardize global trade and freedom of navigation.

"Today, in response to these continuing threats and attacks, the United States announced the designation of Ansarallah, also known as the Houthis, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. This designation is an important tool to impede terrorist funding to the Houthis, further restrict their access to financial markets, and hold them accountable for their actions. If the Houthis cease their attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the United States will immediately reevaluate this designation," stated the White House.

Note that the decision will take effect 30 days after the announcement. This will enable the United States to provide humanitarian exceptions, ensuring that the actions are directed against the Houthis rather than the people of Yemen.

Exclusion of Houthis from the terrorist list

In February 2021, the U.S. decided to exclude the Ansar Allah movement, referred to as the Houthis, from the list of terrorist organizations. At that time, the U.S. explained that this decision was related to humanitarian concerns, particularly to ensure that the residents of Yemen had access to essential goods.

Strikes on Houthi bases in Yemen

Recall that since November of the previous year, Yemeni Houthis have periodically attacked trade ships in the Red Sea using combat drones, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles. The initial attacks occurred after the start of Israel's war against Hamas.

In response to the shelling, the U.S. and the UK launched missile strikes on objects in Yemen associated with the Houthis. Explosions were reported throughout the country. Despite this, the Houthis continued to target ships near the Yemeni coast. For instance, on January 15, they struck an American vessel.

The U.S. and the UK have repeatedly warned that if Houthi attacks persist, strikes on their military facilities will be repeated.