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US to designate Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization

January 11, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 49.6%. 2 min read.

SANA'A, YEMEN - JULY 06: Followers of the Houthis group take part in a tribal gathering against the Saudi-led coalition war on Yemen on July 06, 2020 in Sana'a, Yemen. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

The State Department will notify Congress of its intent to designate Houthi rebels as a foreign terrorist organization, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday, despite intense pushback from US diplomats and aid groups in Yemen.

Washington (CNN)The State Department will notify Congress of its intent to designate Houthi rebels as a foreign terrorist organization, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday, despite intense pushback from US diplomats and aid groups in Yemen.

"These designations will provide additional tools to confront terrorist activity and terrorism by Ansarallah, a deadly Iran-backed militia group in the Gulf region," Pompeo said in a statement.

The 11th hour move by the Trump administration could upend the United Nations' work on peace talks in the country and there are also fears that such a designation could impact humanitarian aid deliveries, sources have told CNN.

Pompeo also said in the statement that the US recognizes concerns that the designation of the Houthis, an Iranian-backed Shia political and military organization from the north of Yemen, will have an impact on the humanitarian situation in the country.

One State Department official said Pompeo sees the designation as part of the maximum pressure campaign against Iran -- given the Houthis' ties to Iran -- and doesn't care if it puts the Biden team in a challenging position.

Houthi leader Mohamed Ali Al Houthi condemned the designation on Twitter Monday, saying "we reserve the right to respond against any designation issued by the Trump administration, or any other administration. " He did not provide further detail of how the group is planning to respond.

Yemen's Saudi-backed government, however, expressed support for the US government's designation.

"The sanctions will hamstring the ability of aid agencies to respond, and without additional safeguards and broader exemptions for the commercial sector, Yemen's faltering economy will be dealt a further devastating blow," NRC Yemen Country Director Mohamed Abdi said in a statement on Monday.

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