Aircraft joins strikes against Houthis
Aircraft joins strikes against HouthisReuters

The White House today (Wednesday) officially designated the Houthi rebel group in Yemen as a terrorist organization, three years after removing the Houthis from the US list of designated terrorist organizations/

The move was made after the Houthis launched repeated attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea over the last two months.

"Over the past months, Yemen-based Houthi militants have engaged in unprecedented attacks against United States military forces and international maritime vessels operating in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. These attacks fit the textbook definition of terrorism. They have endangered U.S. personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, jeopardized global trade, and threatened freedom of navigation. The United States and the international community have been united in our response and in condemning these attacks in the strongest terms," said US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

"Today, in response to these continuing threats and attacks, the United States announced the designation of Ansarallah, also known as the Houthis, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. This designation is an important tool to impede terrorist funding to the Houthis, further restrict their access to financial markets, and hold them accountable for their actions. If the Houthis cease their attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the United States will immediately reevaluate this designation.

"The designation will take effect 30 days from now, to allow us to ensure robust humanitarian carve outs are in place so our action targets the Houthis and not the people of Yemen. We are rolling out unprecedented carve outs and licenses to help prevent adverse impacts on the Yemeni people. The people of Yemen should not pay the price for the actions of the Houthis. We are sending a clear message: commercial shipments into Yemeni ports on which the Yemeni people rely for food, medicine and fuel should continue and are not covered by our sanctions. This is in addition to the carveouts we include in all sanctions programs for food, medicine, and humanitarian assistance.

"As President Biden has said, the United States will not hesitate to take further actions to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce," Sullivan concluded.

On Monday, the Houthis claimed responsibility for an attack carried out on an American vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

The Yemeni group "carried out a military operation targeting an American ship in the Gulf of Aden, with a number of appropriate naval missiles," Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree announced in a live video statement, adding that the hits were "accurate and direct."

Last Thursday night, the US and UK launched air strikes on Houthi rebel targets in Yemen in response to the months of attacks on merchant vessels.

Carla Babb, the Pentagon correspondent for Voice of America, reported that more than a dozen Houthi targets inside of Yemen were struck.

The fighter jets were striking "targets ranging from training facilities to drone storage facilities," Babb reported.

US President Joe Biden removed the Houthis from the nation’s “Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO)” and “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” lists in February 2021, shortly after his inauguration.