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US decision to sanction Yemen’s Ansarullah badge of pride for movement: Spokesman

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has slammed a recent decision by the United States to designate the popular group as “terrorist” and impose sanctions on some of its leaders, saying the move is in fact a “badge of honor” for the movement.

“Such a move confirms that we have [successfully] stood up against the interests of the United States, and we will resist any act of aggression. Whatever the Yemeni leadership, the Armed Forces Command as well as Popular Committees stipulate is a legal and definitive option,” Mohammed Abdul-Salam, the movement’s spokesman, told al-Masirah television network on Tuesday night.

He said the US decision to blacklist Ansarullah — which went into effect on January 19 — will have no political, economic or humanitarian consequences since Yemenis have already experienced such measures in the past.

The Ansarullah spokesman went on to say that the international community contacted the popular Yemeni movement shortly after the US designation, and stressed that the decision had nothing to do with them and that Washington was acting recklessly on various issues.

Abdul-Salam hailed the position of some countries, which condemned the US move, saying, “We know that the step is due to our resistance against the excessive demands of the United States and those of the Zionist regime.”

He added that the Yemeni nation is not living on foreign aid but is instead trying to rely on its own indigenous resources.

“The United States has for decades employed all its options against our nation; either through the interference of its [diplomatic] missions in the domestic affairs of our country, or provoking wars and military conflicts, or making moves that hinder the progress of Yemenis,” Abdul-Salam said.

The Ansarullah spokesman then blamed the United States for the ongoing Saudi-led military aggression against Yemen, saying, “Saudi Arabia is simply an agent to advance such enmity. The United States has now taken off its mask, designated Ansarullah as terrorist and acknowledged the defeat of its mercenaries and tools in carrying out its mission in Yemen.”

“If the United States takes any hostile action against Yemeni people, we have the right to defend [ourselves] and respond. We are not surprised by the US decision, and we assure our people it will not affect our position at all,” Abdul-Salam said.

Top official calls for mass protests on Monday

Meanwhile, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council, called for mass rallies across the country on Monday in protest at the US designation.

He also called on all freedom-loving people around the world to hold separate demonstrations in condemnation of the US move.

UN officials, aid groups voice concerns after Houthis blacklisted

Separately, UN officials and aid groups said the designation will scare off commercial trade in Yemen and push the conflict-stricken Arab country into a large-scale famine.

“Our concern from the beginning … is the impact on the commercial sector and that the vast majority of food and other basic supplies that come into Yemen comes in through the commercial sector,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The United Nations describes Yemen as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of its people in need.

The United States claimed on Tuesday it had exempted aid groups, the United Nations, the Red Cross and the export of agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices from its designation of Yemen’s Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization.

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