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Iran says US blacklisting of Yemen’s Ansarullah will kill political process, talks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh

Iran has hit out at a US decision to designate Yemen’s Ansarullah movement as a terrorist organization, warning that the move will impede a political solution to the conflict in the impoverished Arab country.    

“Blacklisting Yemen’s Ansarullah movement is a last-ditch attempt by the administration of [outgoing US President Donald] Trump to put the final finishing touches to its destructive role in the shameful, imposed war on Yemen and to impede a political solution and peace talks,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Wednesday.

The remarks came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that the Department of State will notify Congress of his intent to designate Yemen’s Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization.

The Houthis will be blacklisted on January 19 -- one day before US President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration -- unless Congress blocks the decision.

Pompeo also designated as terrorists three leaders of the movement, including their chief Abdul-Malik al-Houthi.

'US main sponsor of crimes in Yemen' 

Khatibzadeh said that from the very onset of Yemen’s war, the US has been the main sponsor of crimes perpetrated by the Saudi-led coalition in the Arab country and has spared no support for the aggressors, be it financial or arms supply.

He took the US government and the Department of State to task for “making every effort to ignite and continue the war and block any way out for a political solution to the crisis.”

Stressing that the US move has concerned the global community, the Iranian official raised the alarm that the sanctions will disrupt humanitarian aid delivery and impede the UN mission in the war-ravaged country.  

He finally expressed optimism that the international community will react to the Trump administration's “vicious decision.”

A day after the US announcement, the Ansarullah movement said the group is entitled to respond to any US move to designate them as a terrorist organization, while describing the Trump administration as “terrorist.”

“America is the source of terrorism,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a member of Yemen's Supreme Political Council, twitted on Monday. “The Trump administration’s policy and actions are terrorist. We reserve the right to respond to any designation issued by the Trump administration or any administration.”

The announcement also sparked condemnations and triggered concern from the international community, and even within the US.

A group of US lawmakers warned against the plan to blacklist the Ansarullah movement, urging Washington to reverse the decision.

In a post on his Twitter account, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said, "The designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization is a death sentence for thousands of Yemenis," adding that the move will cut off humanitarian aid and make intra-Yemen peace talks nearly impossible.

He further said President-elect Biden should reverse this policy as soon as he takes office.

Democratic lawmaker Gregory Meeks also said, "No solution in Yemen will be sustainable unless the Houthis are involved.”

Republican Senator Todd Young also said Pompeo's move “will further destabilize a war-torn country” and block aid groups from delivering vital relief.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance group also denounced the US decision, terming it as a criminal act aimed at undermining the Yemeni nation’s morale.

Hezbollah said in a statement late on Monday that Washington is not content with supporting and participating in the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen, and intends to target the Ansarullah movement and three of its leaders with sanctions.

“It is a criminal move that seeks to hurt the morale of Yemenis, who have been resiliently confronting the unfair blockade and aggression,” the statement added. “The United States bears the responsibility for all potential humanitarian and health repercussions.”

The European Union and the UN also censured the US decision.

Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief, said on Tuesday the designation “risks rendering UN-led efforts to reach a comprehensive solution to the Yemen conflict more difficult.”

It would also complicate the necessary diplomatic engagement with Houthi Ansarullah movement in Yemen as well as the work of the international community on political, humanitarian and developmental matters, he added.

United Nations spokesman Stephan Dujarric said during a January 11 briefing that the US intention to brand Yemen’s Houthi movement as a terrorist organization is “likely to have serious humanitarian and political repercussions.”

He called on the US to “swiftly grant the necessary licenses and exemptions to ensure that principled humanitarian assistance can continue to reach all people ... without disruption.”

According to the official, the UN is “concerned that the designation may have a detrimental impact on efforts to resume the political process in Yemen.”

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