Houthis back in list of designated global terrorists

US had delisted the Houthis as a terrorist organisation as the administration sought to make it easier to get humanitarian aid into Yemen…reports Asian Lite News

The Biden administration is expected to soon announce plans to redesignate Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen as a specially designated global terrorists, according to two people familiar with the White House decision and a US official.

The move comes as the Houthis have launched dozens of attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. The group says it has attacked the ships in response to Israel’s military operations in Gaza in the aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

The three people familiar with the decision were not authorized to comment and requested anonymity to discuss the matter ahead of the expected formal announcement.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken delisted the Houthis as both a foreign terrorist organizations and as specially designated global terrorists in February 2021 as the administration sought to make it easier to get humanitarian aid into Yemen.

A senior White House official had said on Tuesday that addressing the ongoing threat by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on commercial vessels in the Red Sea is an “all hands on deck” problem that the US and allies must address together to minimize impact on the global economy.

“How long this goes on and how bad it gets comes down not just to the decisions of the countries in the coalition that took strikes last week,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said during an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Iran-backed Houthi group has launched dozens of attacks since November on vessels in the Red Sea, a vital corridor for the world’s shipping traffic, in what they say is an effort to support Palestinians in the war with Israel. US and British forces have responded by carrying out dozens of air and sea strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen since Friday. The attacks by the Houthis have continued.

Linda Thomas Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said last week that 2,000 ships since November have been forced to divert thousands of miles to avoid the Red Sea. Houthi militants have threatened or taken hostage mariners from more than 20 countries.

The Red Sea attacks have already caused significant disruptions to global trade. Oil prices have edged higher in recent days, though Brent crude futures were down slightly in early trading Tuesday. Tesla last week announced it would temporarily halt most production at its German factory because of attacks in the Red Sea.

The US launched a new strike against the Houthis on Tuesday, hitting anti-ship missiles in the third assault on the Iranian-backed group in recent days. The strike came as the Iranian-backed Houthis claimed responsibility for a missile attack against the Malta-flagged bulk carrier Zografia in the Red Sea. No one was injured.

Sullivan said it was critical that countries with influence on Tehran and other Middle East capitals make it clear “that the entire world rejects wholesale the idea that a group like the Houthis can basically hijack the world.”

Airstrikes hit Houthi targets

Meanwhile, US has reportedly conducted a series of fresh airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen’s central province of Al Bayda.

Yasser Jahlan, a local government official, said that the strikes occurred on Tuesday just several hours after the Houthi group claimed responsibility for a missile attack against a US-owned oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

He said that three strikes hit Houthi military barracks and facilities in the Mukayras district of Al Bayda before dawn on Tuesday.

The US Central Command issued a statement confirming the strikes, stating that “the US Forces struck and destroyed four Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles prepared to launch from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen”.

It came after an incident on Monday when a US-owned and operated container ship was hit by a missile launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

In the past few hours, the Houthi group has claimed responsibility for a new attack on a Greek-owned, Malta-flagged freighter ZOGRAFIA with multiple missiles in the Red Sea.

According to a Houthi statement, the attack was a response to the ship’s ignoring its warnings by continuing to sail toward Israel.

The Houthi group has escalated its attacks on ships in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait recently, by employing armed boats, drones and missiles, prompting concerns about maritime security in this crucial global trade route.

Maritime authorities are urging all ships transiting the Red Sea to exercise extreme caution and maintain vigilance against potential threats.

The Houthis have controlled much of northern Yemen, including the capital of Sanaa, since ousting the Yemeni government in 2014.

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