Biden administration re-designates Houthis as global terror group

The move is in response to the militants' continued attacks.

ByShannon K. Crawford ABCNews logo
Wednesday, January 17, 2024
Biden administration expected to re-designate Houthis as a global terrorist entity
The Biden administration is expected to re-designate the Houthis as a specially designated global terrorist (SDGT) entity

The State Department on Wednesday announced it was re-listing Yemen's Houthi rebels as a global terrorist group in response to the militants' attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

"This designation seeks to promote accountability for the group's terrorist activities," Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a statement. "If the Houthis cease their attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the United States will reevaluate this designation."

The department said the designation will go into effect in 30 days.

The Iranian-backed group was designated as a terrorist organization in January of 2021 -- a move that was met with widespread concern from humanitarian groups, who feared that the restrictions that accompany the designation would make it nearly impossible to provide aid to Yemen's impoverished civilians.

President Joe Biden quickly delisted the Houthis when he entered office as part of his administration's diplomatic push to end Yemen's ongoing civil war.

The administration has been considering reimposing the designation for weeks, but some officials involved in the decision making were reluctant because of possible disruptions to humanitarian assistance and peace talks. The official says these priorities will be safeguarded. However, only time will tell if they can create effective workarounds.

When asked about this topic, Biden recently brushed the label off as "irrelevant."

"It's irrelevant whether their designated," Biden told reporters on Friday when asked how soon he would designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization after he said earlier in the day said he believed that's what they were.

The possible designation comes as the Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea following Hamas' Oct. 7 surprise terror attack on Israel have riled commercial shipping and threatened to dangerously escalate heightened tensions in the Middle East. In response, the U.S. has carried out airstrikes focused Houthi targets, according to U.S. Central Command.