On Thursday, the US issued sanctions against five people belonging to Yemen’s Houthis. The sanctions come amid rumors that the US is considering designating the Houthis as a terror group.
The Treasury Department announced the sanctions on the five Houthis alongside other alleged human rights abusers in Russia and Haiti. “As we recognize International Human Rights Day, the United States stands with innocent civilians around the globe who have been victims of violence and oppression,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich said.
Since 2015, the US has supported the Saudi-led coalition in its fight against the Houthis in Yemen. The coalition regularly bombs civilian infrastructure. The bombing campaign and blockade has caused widespread disease, malnutrition, and mass starvation.
Human rights groups have sounded the alarm over the Trump administration’s plan to designate the Houthis as a terrorist group. The move could have devastating consequences to the civilians living in Houthi-controlled areas, where about 70 percent of the population lives. The designation would hobble international charities that deliver aid to those areas.
The UN made an appeal to the Trump administration about the terror designation last week, when the head of the World Food Program met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It’s not clear if the US still plans on going through with adding the Houthis to the terror list or if Thursday’s sanctions were an alternative. Earlier this week, the US sanctioned Iran’s envoy to Yemen, claiming he is a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.