US to reclassify Houthis as terrorist group: media

AFP , Wednesday 17 Jan 2024

The United States will once again consider Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels a terrorist group, US media reported Tuesday, after previously dropping the classification in 2021.

Houthi fighters and tribesmen stage a rally against the U.S. and the U.K. strikes on Houthi-run military sites near Sanaa, Yemen, on Sunday, Jan.2024. AP


The designation, expected Wednesday, of the Houthis as a "specially designated global terrorist" entity comes amid attacks by the group on shipping and military vessels in the Red Sea.

On Tuesday, the US military said it struck Yemen to destroy four anti-ship missiles "prepared to launch from Houthi-controlled areas," and which "presented an imminent threat to both merchant and US Navy ships in the region."

It is at least the third time in less than a week that the United States has carried out strikes against the Houthis, who have repeatedly taken aim at merchant vessels in the vital Red Sea shipping lane -- attacks the rebels say are in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

The US military also said that the Houthis launched an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes on Tuesday, and that a Maltese-flagged bulk carrier reported that it was hit but remained seaworthy.

The United States and Britain targeted nearly 30 sites in Yemen with more than 150 munitions last week, while American forces later attacked a Houthi radar site in what was described as "a follow-on action" related to the previous strikes.

The United States set up a multinational naval task force last month to protect Red Sea shipping from the Houthis, who are endangering a transit route that carries up to 12 percent of global trade.

The Houthis say they have been targeting Israeli-linked vessels, but Washington says dozens of countries have connections to ships that have been attacked.

Washington had previously designated the Houthis as a terrorist group in January 2021, in the waning days of the Donald Trump administration -- a move that was reversed the following month by President Joe Biden.

The original designation caused outcry from those who said it would complicate the humanitarian response in the country, battered by civil war and much of which is controlled by the Houthis.

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