US re-designates Houthis as 'terrorist' entity, Yemen rebels vow to continue attacks

AFP , Ahram Online , Wednesday 17 Jan 2024

The United States announced on Wednesday the designation of Yemen's Houthi rebels as "terrorist" entities, while the rebels remain undeterred, vowing to continue attacks on Israeli-linked vessels in the Red and Arabian Seas, in support of Palestinians suffering under Israel's war on Gaza.

Houthi rebels
File photo: Houthi fighters and tribesmen stage a rally against the US and the UK strikes on Houthi-run military sites near Sanaa, Yemen. AP


The Houthis have already faced multiple rounds of air strikes in response to their offensive and vowed after the designation announcement that they would continue attacks to pressure Israel to halt its hostilities in Gaza and to allow unfettered aid access into the besieged strip.

"The Department of State today is announcing the designation of Ansarallah, commonly referred to as the Houthis, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group, effective 30 days from today," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the 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," Sullivan said in a statement.

The Houthis, however, said Wednesday that they will not call off their strikes.

Meanwhile, the US and Israel's Western allies continue to supply Israel with lethal munitions which Israel has used to target hospitals, UN-run schools and designated "safe areas" where 85 percent of Gazans displaced by Israel's war seek shelter from indiscriminate Israeli bombardment of the strip.

Military and diplomatic pressure

The group's spokesman Mohammed Abdelsalam, dismissed the recent American re-designation of the group as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity, stating that it "has no value" and "will not change Yemen’s position in support of Palestine."

"We consider it a badge of honour for Yemen for its support of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza," he told Al Jazeera TV, emphasizing that "the arrogant American policies and their support for the Zionist criminal entity make them the sponsor of real terrorism."

The Houthi spokesman added: "We will not give up targeting Israeli ships or ships heading towards ports in occupied Palestine... in support of the Palestinian people," noting that they would respond to new strikes on Yemen by the United States or Britain.

Similarly, in a post on X (formerly Twitter), Hezam Al-Assad, a member of the Houthi political bureau, affirmed that the Houthis will persist in their attacks on Israeli-linked vessels in the Red and Arabian Seas.

“The operations of our naval forces in the Red and Arabian Seas will continue to target Israeli ships linked to the enemy entity,” he wrote on X.

"Washington is the one engaging in criminal activities worldwide, spreading wars and destruction, and supporting those who commit the worst atrocities against children, women, and civilians. It is not in a position to classify others as terrorists," he added.

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

On Tuesday, the US military said it destroyed four anti-ship missiles in Yemen that posed an imminent threat to military and civilian vessels.

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.

But the attacks have not ended, with the US Central Command saying Tuesday that the Houthis launched an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes, and that a Maltese-flagged bulk carrier reported that it was hit but remained seaworthy.

In 2021, US President Joe Biden's administration removed his predecessor Donald Trump's last-minute designation of the Houthis as both a foreign terrorist organization and a specially designated global terrorist group.

The removal came in response to fears from aid groups that they would need to pull out of Yemen as they are obliged to deal with the rebels, who effectively are the government in vast areas including the capital Sanaa.

Short link: