Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Friday that the US is revoking the designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization on February 16th.
The State Department announced the Biden administration’s intent to reverse the designation last week after warnings from the UN and aid organizations that the designation would push millions into famine.
“This decision is a recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen,” Blinken said. “We have listened to warnings from the United Nations, humanitarian groups, and bipartisan members of Congress, among others, that the designations could have a devastating impact on Yemenis’ access to basic commodities like food and fuel.”
Blinken mentioned several Houthi leaders who were already under US sanctions before the designation and said they will remain blacklisted. Since Houthi leaders were already under US sanctions, the designation would only cause Yemeni civilians living in Houthi-controlled areas to suffer, where 70 percent of Yemen’s population lives.
The Houthi terror designation was one of the last foreign policy acts of the Trump administration. It went into effect on January 19th, President Trump’s last full day in office.
Due to the US-backed Saudi-led war in Yemen that has been raging since 2015, about 80 percent of Yemen’s population is reliant on aid. The US-backed coalition has regularly targeted civilian infrastructure, including food supplies. The UN warned on Friday that 400,000 Yemeni children under five could starve to death in 2021.