U.S. Lifts Yemeni Militant Group’s Terrorist Designation for Humanitarian Reasons
Days after a “humanitarian situation” compelled the Biden administration to revoke the terrorist designation of a Yemen-based militant group, the U.S. is sending the Islamic nation $191 million in assistance. Yemen is a hotbed of terrorism that serves as the headquarters of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The international community strongly opposed the Trump administration’s classification of another Yemeni radical faction, Ansarallah, as a specially designated global terrorist entity asserting that it would come with repercussions for humanitarian operations. In a Federal Register bulletin announcing the move the State Department writes that Ansarallah, also known as Partisans of God, has committed or has attempted to commit, or poses a significant risk of committing, or has participated in training to commit, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.
The Biden administration did not waste much time caving into the demands of leftist global entities to reverse the designation. Leading the pack was the famously corrupt United Nations, which joined forces with independent humanitarian organizations to demand Ansarallah be removed from the government’s terrorist list. UN officials expressed “deep concern about the adverse humanitarian impact,” and the director of a nonprofit called it a “death sentence.” In mid-February Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken obliged, explaining that the decision to revoke Ansarallah’s terrorist designation is a recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. “We have listened to warnings from the United Nations, humanitarian groups, and bipartisan members of Congress, among others, that the designations could have a devastating impact on Yemenis’ access to basic commodities like food and fuel,” according to State Department announcement. “The revocations are intended to ensure that relevant U.S. policies do not impede assistance to those already suffering what has been called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. By focusing on alleviating the humanitarian situation in Yemen, we hope the Yemeni parties can also focus on engaging in dialogue.”
It is worth noting that shortly after Blinken’s decision the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned two key militants of the Iranian-backed Ansarallah, which is sometimes referred to as the Houthis. The agency identifies them as Mansur Al-Sa’adi and Ahmad ‘Ali Ahsan al-Hamzi and claims they are responsible for orchestrating attacks by Houthi forces impacting Yemeni civilians, bordering nations, and commercial vessels in international waters. “These actions, which were done to advance the Iranian regime’s destabilizing agenda, have fueled the Yemeni conflict, displacing more than one million people and pushing Yemen to the brink of famine,” the OFAC writes in an a press release. The document proceeds to explain that the Houthis have waged a bloody war against the internationally recognized Yemeni government using ballistic missiles, explosives, naval mines, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to attack bases, population centers, infrastructure, and nearby commercial shipping. “The Iranian regime has intensified this conflict by providing direct financial and materiel assistance to the Houthis, including small arms, missiles, explosives, and UAVs,” according to the U.S. Treasury.
The conflicting actions of two American government agencies may seem confusing to some, though Secretary of State Blinken does acknowledge Ansarallah’s terrorist traits and that its leaders threaten Yemen’s peace, security, and stability. In the announcement quashing the terrorist designation, Blinken says this: “The United States remains clear-eyed about Ansarallah’s malign actions, and aggression, including taking control of large areas of Yemen by force, attacking U.S. partners in the Gulf, kidnapping and torturing citizens of the United States and many of our allies, diverting humanitarian aid, brutally repressing Yemenis in areas they control, and the deadly attack on December 30, 2020 in Aden against the cabinet of the legitimate government of Yemen.” The Secretary of State promises to “closely monitor” the terrorist organization’s activities and actively identify additional targets for designation, especially those responsible for explosive boat attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea and missile attacks into Saudi Arabia. Blinken assures the U.S. is committed to helping its partners defend themselves against threats arising from Yemen. In the meantime, American taxpayer dollars keep pouring into the country. The latest allotment of $191 million, announced this month, comes on the heels of a $160 million allocation at the end of 2020 to “alleviate the suffering of the people of Yemen.”