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US State Department starts to revisit Trump terrorist designation of Yemen’s Ansarullah

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)
Yemenis hold up weapons during a demonstration against the United States decision to designate the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement as a foreign terrorist organization, in Sana’a, Yemen, on January 20, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

A spokesperson at the US State Department says Washington has started a review of a decision by the administration of former US President Donald Trump to designate Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement as a foreign terrorist organization.

“As noted by Secretary-Designate [Anthony] Blinken, the State Department has initiated a review of Ansarullah’s terrorist designations,” the spokesperson said on Friday.

“We will not publicly discuss or comment on internal deliberations regarding that review; however, with the humanitarian crisis in Yemen we are working as fast as we can to conduct the review and make a determination,” the spokesperson added.

Trump's administration announced the designation of popular Ansarullah movement as a terrorist group on January 11, nine days before new US President Joe Biden took office on Wednesday.

Trump was a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia, offering US logistical help and military sales for its six-year war on Yemen to dislodge the Ansarullah-led and Sana’a-based National Salvation Government, which is controlling much of the war-torn country.

Earlier this week, Blinken said the US State Department would quickly take a look at the terrorist designation of Ansarullah, and end support to the devastating Saudi-led offensive on Yemen.

Blinken said that the Saudis have "contributed to what is by most accounts the worst humanitarian situation anywhere in the world."

The United Nations and aid groups have warned the terrorist designation risks complicating efforts to combat the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in the war-wracked country where millions depend on aid to survive.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, has called on the United States to reverse the Trump administration's move.

“Our position on this has not changed. We call on the government to reverse that decision,” Dujarric said.

“Our concern from the beginning, that we expressed very clearly, is the impact on the commercial sector,” he added.

“The vast majority of food and other basic supplies that comes into Yemen comes in through the commercial sector,” Dujarric pointed out.

Over 170 Yemeni NGOs condemn US terrorist designation of Ansarullah

Meanwhile, a total of 173 Yemeni civil society organizations have in a joint statement denounced the terror designation of Ansarullah, and called for the move to be undone.

The organizations rejected the blacklisting as an aggressive step that would pose catastrophic risks to the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and would exacerbate the sufferings of Yemeni people – most of whom are living below the poverty line and are currently at risk of starvation.

Yemenis to stage mass rallies against blacklisting

Thousands of people in Yemen are set to take part in countrywide demonstrations on Monday to condemn the US designation of popular Ansarullah movement.

The organizing committee said in a statement that that the rallies will be held under the motto “The blockade and US aggression are terrorist crimes” in the capital, Sana'a, and elsewhere in the country.

The committee highlighted that the Yemeni nation’s resolve and steadfastness will not be damaged in the face of the enemy, whatever the challenges might be.

The US terrorist designation appears to be a desperate attempt by the former US administration to step up pressure on the popular Houthi movement after the Saudi regime failed to fulfill its objectives in Yemen after years of war, despite all the support it received from the US and other Western states.

The Houthi Ansarullah movement, backed by the Yemeni armed forces and allied popular groups, has been successfully defending Yemen against the Saudi aggression, leaving Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the county.

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