Photo Credit: الإعلام الحربي اليمني / Wikimedia / CC4.0
The Galaxy Leader, hijacked by the Houthis in December 2023.

The US State Department redesignation of the Ansarallah “Houthi” group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) went into effect this weekend.

According to the announcement, which said the decision went into effect on Friday, February 16, the Iranian proxy in Yemen was designated for “having committed or attempted to commit, posing a significant risk of committing, or having participated in training to commit acts of terrorism that threaten the security of United States nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.”


The group was originally designated a foreign terrorist organization by the Trump Administration on January 19, 2021, one day before incumbent President Joe Biden was sworn into office.

The decision to walk that decision back was made on January 17, 2024.

Since shortly after the October 7, 2023 start of the war against Israel by Hamas, a fellow Iranian proxy that was ruling Gaza, the Houthis have launched explosive drones and ballistic missiles against international maritime vessels in the Red Sea, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and Gulf of Aden, along hijacking incidents — all aimed at paralyzing the shipping lanes and thus crippling the Israeli economy.

The group has also attacked military forces who were deployed in the area to defend the safety and security of commercial shipping.

“These attacks against international shipping have endangered mariners, disrupted the free flow of commerce, and interfered with navigational rights and freedoms,” the State Department said this weekend in its announcement.

“This designation seeks to promote accountability for the group’s terrorist activities. If the Houthis cease their attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the United States will reevaluate this designation.”

The US Treasury first defined and sanctioned Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) military force in October 2007 under Executive Order 13382.

The IRGC’s Qods Force branch was separately designated by the US Treasury Dept. as a terrorist group under Executive Order 13224 in October 2017, under the Trump Administration. The IRGC in its entirety was also designated as a terrorist entity under the same executive order.

The State Department added the Iranian IRGC to the Foreign Terrorism Organization list in 2019, also under the Trump Administration.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.