The US State Department on Friday confirmed to reporters that President Joe Biden has directed his administration to remove Yemen’s Iranian-backed militia, the Houthis, from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.
“Secretary (Antony) Blinken has been clear about undertaking an expeditious review of the designations of Ansarallah (Houthis – ed.) given the profound implications for the people of Yemen, home to the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak publicly.
He added that the “decision has nothing to do with our view of the Houthis and their reprehensible conduct, including attacks against civilians and the kidnapping of American citizens. We are committed to helping Saudi Arabia defend its territory against further such attacks,” the official said.
(Houthis have repeatedly aimed missile and armed drone attacks at civilian areas deep inside neighboring Saudi Arabia.)
“Our action is due entirely to the humanitarian consequences of this last-minute designation from the prior administration, which the United Nations and humanitarian organizations have since made clear would accelerate the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” the official added.
A number of diplomats and lawmakers have said the FTO listing could further exacerbate the difficulty of delivering humanitarian aid to civilians inside Yemen.