Biden Admin Brings Back Trump Era Designation

( – Ten days before the end of former President Donald Trump’s term in office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced he was designating Ansarallah (the Houthis) a terrorist group. When President Joe Biden took over, Secretary of State Antony Blinken rescinded the designation. Now, Pompeo’s successor is changing course.

On January 17, Blinken announced he was naming the Houthis a Specially Designated Terrorist group (SDGT). The designation will go into effect in 30 days and is the result of repeated attacks by the militant group on commercial vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The attacks have caused major problems with international trade. Companies are rerouting their shipments around the African continent to avoid the Middle East, which is causing them to pay more for fuel and delaying the shipments by 10 days.

Days before Blinken’s announcement, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced the Houthis attacked a US-owned container ship with an anti-ship ballistic missile. Fortunately, nobody on the ship suffered injuries, and there was no significant damage to the vessel.

There’s a difference between the designation under the two administrations. Pompeo designated the Houthis as an SDGT and a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The latter is a more serious designation. Blinken decided he wouldn’t label the group as an FTO because it would make it much harder to get humanitarian aid into Yemen. During the 30-day waiting period, the State Department will issue licenses authorizing certain transactions related to fuel, medicine, food, telecommunications, mail, airport and port operations, and other personal remittances. They will also reach out to others to facilitate the import of commodities into Yemen.

Blinken said the terrorists should be “held accountable for their actions, but it should not be at the expense of Yemeni civilians.” However, if the Houthis refuse to stop attacking ships, then the secretary said he would reconsider his decision.

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