Pompeo Declares Terrorist Group


Eske Campen, staff

On January 11, 2021, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, the United States will designate Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels as a foreign terrorist organization, moving aid groups have warned could hamstring attempts to deal with what many consider to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The designation will take effect on Jan. 19, the day before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. “These designations will provide additional tools to confront terrorist activity and terrorism by Ansarallah,” he said. 



The Trump administration had been locked in an internal debate about whether to formally designate the Houthi rebels as a terrorist group, as aid groups and United Nations officials warned the move could worsen what is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen, four people familiar with the discussions told NBC News last month. Pompeo said Sunday that the U.S. recognized concerns that the designations will have an impact on the humanitarian situation in the war-torn country and said it planned to put in place measures to reduce their impact on certain humanitarian activity and imports into Yemen. The measures will include the issuance of special licenses by the Treasury to allow U.S. assistance to continue in Yemen, as well as the activities of certain international and non-governmental organizations such as the United Nations, Pompeo said. 


“Getting food and medicine into Yemen, a country 80 percent dependent on imports, will become even more difficult,” the Norwegian Refugee Council, one of the main humanitarian agencies active in Yemen, said in a statement. The civil war in Yemen started in 2014 when the Houthi rebels took control of the capital Sanaa. The rebels are backed by Tehran, while a Saudi-led military coalition intervened on behalf of the government in 2015, turning the conflict into a proxy war between regional foes Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as domestic conflict.