The United States said on Friday that it intends to cancel the designation of the Yemeni Houthi group as a terrorist organization in response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, thus canceling one of the most criticized decisions taken by the administration of former US President Donald Trump before handing over power to the administration of President Joe Biden.
The cancellation, which was confirmed by a State Department official, comes a day after President Joe Biden announced a halt to US support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, which is widely seen as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“After a comprehensive review, we can confirm that the foreign minister intends to cancel the classification of Ansar Allah as a foreign terrorist organization and as a global terrorist organization,” the official said, using another name for the Houthi group.
“Our move is entirely due to the humanitarian consequences of this classification taken by the previous administration at the last moment, which the United Nations and humanitarian organizations have made clear since then that will precipitate the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” he added.
The United Nations describes Yemen as the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with 80 percent of its population facing destitution.
“We welcome the declared intention of the US administration to cancel the classification because it will provide massive relief to millions of Yemenis who depend on humanitarian aid and commercial imports to meet their basic survival needs,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blacklisted the Houthi movement on January 19 – the day before Biden took office – despite warnings by the United Nations and aid groups that it would push millions in Yemen into widespread famine.
The official stressed that this measure “has nothing to do” with the US opinion of the Houthis and their “disgraceful behavior,” and reiterated Washington’s commitment to assist Saudi Arabia in defending its territory against more such attacks.
The Trump administration excluded relief groups, the United Nations, the Red Cross, and exports of agricultural goods, medicines and medical devices from its classification, but United Nations officials and aid groups said that these exceptions were insufficient and called for the decision to be revoked.