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Biden reverses Trump’s terrorist designation of Yemen’s Ansarullah

The administration of US President Joe Biden has formally notified Congress that it will remove Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement from the list of foreign terrorist organizations, reversing a last-minute designation by former president Donald Trump.

“Secretary [Antony] Blinken has been clear about undertaking an expeditious review of the designations of Ansarullah given the profound implications for the people of Yemen, home to the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe,” an unnamed State Department official confirmed on Friday.

“After a comprehensive review, we can confirm that the Secretary intends to revoke the Foreign Terrorist Organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist designations of Ansarullah,” the official added.

Two sources familiar with the matter said the State Department had formally notified Congress of its plan to delist the Houthi movement.

The decision comes a day after the Biden administration announced an end to American support for the Saudi war on Yemen, including a freeze on arms sales to the Riyadh regime.

Critics of the Trump administration action had said that the designation would bring more pain to millions of starving people in Yemen.

Scott Paul, Oxfam America’s policy advocacy director said, “This purely counterproductive designation had caused months of uncertainty as aid organizations, banks, and importers of critical commodities like food and fuel were left in limbo.”  

On January 11, nine days before Biden was sworn into office, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced President Trump’s intent to designate Yemen’s Ansarullah movement as terrorist.

The Trump administration’s last-minute “terrorist” designation appeared to be a desperate attempt to step up pressure on the popular Houthi movement after the Saudi regime failed to fulfill the objectives of over five years of war on Yemen, despite all the support it had received from the US and other Western states.

The popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, backed by the Yemeni armed forces and allied popular groups, has gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders, and successfully defended Yemen, leaving Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the county.

Trump had long overlooked and defended the Saudi-led coalition’s acts of aggression in Yemen in favor of lucrative arms sales to the regime in Riyadh.

US withdrawal of support not enough: Houthi

A member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council on Saturday described the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw support for Yemen war in break with Trump’s policy as “insufficient.”

“The US decision to end its involvement [in the war] and command of the aggressor states is not enough. This is the first practical measure that Washington must adopt,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi wrote in a post published on his official Twitter page early on Saturday.

“In the wake of US decision to halt military support for offensive military operations in Yemen, Washington’s allies must also commit themselves to compensate victims, enact a package of measures to guarantee the sovereignty of Yemen, recognize its independence and legitimate right to self-defense, and consider any military action either by Arab or foreign states as a criminal act,” he said. 

“Another step that needs to be taken is to restore the rights of Yemeni people, and to offset economic repercussions, which were incurred [by the coalition of aggression] as a result of the siege. Additionally, no outsider has the right to impose a decision on Yemeni nation or appoint a person to [rule] them by force of arms,” Houthi further noted.

“Last but not least, Yemeni people should not be forced to obey those who do not represent them,” he concluded.

‘We are waiting for actions, not just words’

Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, another member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council, said the US administration needs to understand that actions speak louder than words.

Bukhaiti told Lebanon-based and Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network on Friday night that Ansarullah movement and Yemen’s National Salvation Government were ready to end the crisis and war in the Arab country.

“We are ready for talks, but the mechanism of the previous talks was not right,” he highlighted.

“If the US government is honest, it would practically mean the end of [Saudi-led] aggression against Yemen. The war in Yemen ends once all airstrikes stop and foreign forces leave the country,” Bukhaiti continued.

The member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council also questioned the US decision to end support for the Saudi war on Yemen, saying, “The United States may reduce its support for aggressor states [involved in Yemen war] without stopping it altogether.”

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