On February 5th, US President Joe Biden’s administration began actions to remove Yemen’s Ansar Allah (the Houthis) terrorist designation.
The reason was cited as the necessity to mitigate long-lasting effect of one of the worst humanitarian disasters.
President Donald Trump’s administration had branded the Iranian-backed Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization, a move that limited the provision of aid to the Yemeni people, who have suffered under a yearslong civil war and famine.
A State Department official confirmed the move, after members of Congress were notified of the administration’s plans.
The unnamed official, said the removal changed nothing about the Biden administration’s views of the Houthis, who have targeted civilians and kidnapped Americans.
“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 said.
The move comes a day after Biden announced an end to offensive support to Saudi Arabia’s campaign against the Houthis.
The Obama administration in 2015 gave its approval to Saudi Arabia leading a cross-border air campaign targeting Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who were seizing ever more territory, including Sanaa. The Houthis have launched multiple drone and missile strikes deep into Saudi Arabia. The U.S. says the Saudi-led campaign has entrenched Iran’s role in the conflict, on the side of the Houthis.
“This war has to end,” Biden told diplomats in his first visit to the State Department as president, saying the conflict had created a “humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.”
Saudi Arabia has been conciliatory in its response to rebuffs from Biden, who as a candidate blasted the kingdom’s current rulers for rights abuses and as president has made clear he intends to distance his administration from Saudi leaders.
Despite the claims, the Biden administration also said it will help the Kingdom boost its defenses against outside attacks, as part of maintaining key security, counterterrorism and military ties with Saudi Arabia, a strategic partner and global oil giant.
“We welcome President Biden’s stated commitment to work with friends and allies to resolve conflicts, and deal with attacks from Iran & its proxies in the region,” Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman, a son of King Salman and the kingdom’s deputy defense minister, tweeted.
So, time will tell if anything will change.
- The Liaison and Coordination Officers’ Operations Room (loyal to Ansar Allah) reported 148 ceasefire violations in al-Hudaydah during the past 24 hours
- On February 5, Saudi-led coalition Apache combat helicopters conducted airstrike on the Kitaf area
- On February 5, Saudi-led coalition warplanes conducted airstrike on the Sarwah area
- On February 5, Saudi-led coalition warplanes conducted airstrike on the Asir area
- 9 Ansar Allah members were released in in POWs exchange with Hadi government, according to Abdul Qadir Morteza, Chairman of the Committee for Prisoners of Salvation Government
- Khalid al-Batarfi, an al-Qaeda leader in Yemen was arrested in Mahrah province last October, according to UN
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