WASHINGTON (US) – Reversing one of the most criticised last-minute decisions of the Trump administration, Biden’s government said it intends to revoke the terrorist designation for Yemen’s Houthi movement in response to the country’s humanitarian crisis.
Joe Biden had declared a halt to US support for the Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen, after which he announced the reversal.
“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 State Department said. They also stressed that the action did not reflect the US view of the Houthis and their “reprehensible conduct.”
The United Nations describes Yemen as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of its people in need.
“We welcome the stated intention by the U.S. administration to revoke the designation as it will provide profound relief to millions of Yemenis who rely on humanitarian assistance and commercial imports to meet their basic survival needs,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blacklisted the Houthis on Jan. 19 – a day before Biden took office.
The Trump administration exempted aid groups, the United Nations, the Red Cross and the export of agricultural commodities, medicine and medical devices from its designation. But U.N. officials and relief groups said the carve-outs were not enough and called for the designation to be revoked.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy welcomed the decision. “The designation … stopped food and other critical aid from being delivered inside Yemen and would have prevented effective political negotiation,” he said in a statement.