Its designation as a terrorist group is expected to distance external actors from many dealings with the Houthi authorities.
With only 10 days remaining before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, the measure could complicate the new administration’s efforts to resume diplomacy with Iran, which has ties to the Houthis, and reassess the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, which led the brutal offensive. In Yemen.
“The designations aim to hold the Ansar Allah group responsible for its terrorist actions, including cross-border attacks that threaten the civilian population, infrastructure and commercial shipping,” Pompeo said in a statement, using the official name of the Houthi movement.
He added that she led a campaign that “has killed many people and continues to destabilize the region and deny Yemenis a peaceful solution to the conflict in their country.”
Pompeo referred to an attack on December 30 on an airport in Aden, Yemen’s second city, that killed 26 people and the Saudi-backed government blamed the Houthis.
The rebel group controls much of Yemen and is already under US sanctions.
However, designating it as a terrorist group is expected to deter external actors from conducting many transactions with Houthi authorities, including bank transfers and purchases of food and fuel.
Aid groups and members of Biden’s Democratic Party have warned that the move will severely hinder efforts to address what the United Nations describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Pompeo insisted that the appointments – which will take effect one day before Biden take office on January 19 – will not affect relief work.
“We are planning to put in place measures to limit their impact on some humanitarian activities and imports into Yemen,” Pompeo said.
“We have expressed our readiness to work with relevant officials at the United Nations, and with international organizations, NGOs and other international donors to address these impacts.”