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Biden to review Houthi terrorist designation and curb support for Saudi coalition

January 20, 2021 at 3:57 pm

The administration of incoming US President Joe Biden plans to review the recent designation of Yemen’s Houthi movement as a “terrorist” group. It is also expected to end support for the Saudi-led coalition as the devastating Yemen war approaches the end of its sixth year.

According to Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, the new administration will “immediately” review the designation which came into effect yesterday as one of outgoing President Donald Trump’s parting shots. These included further sanctions on Iran, Cuba and China announced by the now ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“At least on its surface, [the designation] seems to achieve nothing particularly practical in advancing the efforts against the Houthis and to bring them back to the negotiating table while making it even more difficult than it already is to provide humanitarian assistance to people who desperately need it,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

READ: Failure to realise Yemen’s political reality prolongs the conflict and crisis

The US has provided the Saudi war effort with intelligence and logistical support since 2015, which has led to Yemen experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the UN.

Despite the Senate approving a bill in 2019 to end US support for the coalition, Trump vetoed efforts to curb support for the Saudis. Last month it was reported that the State Department had approved the sale of munitions worth $290 million to Saudi Arabia in what critics said was a rushed decision in the closing days of the Trump administration.

However, there are signs that this lucrative support for Riyadh may end once Biden becomes the 46th US President today. “The Houthis bear significant responsibility for what’s happened in Yemen,” explained Blinken, “but the way the [Saudi-led coalition] campaign has been conducted has also contributed significantly to that situation. And so our support should end.”

READ: Biden’s national security adviser says designating Houthis ‘terrorists’ impedes diplomacy