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Biden suspends some sanctions on Yemen’s Houthis

January 26, 2021 at 3:50 pm

President Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware 7 November 2020 [Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images]

The administration of US President Joe Biden has suspended some sanctions imposed on Yemen’s Houthi movement by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Treasury Department announced yesterday that it would exempt certain transactions involving the Houthis from sanctions. These were imposed after the Houthis were designated as a foreign terrorist organisation in the final days of the Trump administration.

According to a statement issued by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the exemption will expire on 26 February. However, the Treasury’s exemptions do not reverse Pompeo’s designation.

The movement formally known as Ansarallah forms part of the de-facto government based in the capital Sanaa, which controls most of Yemen’s densely populated areas. The National Salvation Government (NSG) only has diplomatic ties with Iran and Syria.

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The sanctions imposed on the Houthis took effect a day before Biden was inaugurated despite being widely criticised by aid organisations, analysts and even some senior US officials who argued that the move would hinder humanitarian efforts and UN-brokered peace talks.

The suspension comes amid mounting calls for Biden to reverse the designation and follows a statement by 22 aid organisations working in Yemen which said that it will cause “delays and uncertainty” in their ability to provide aid, and make it more difficult to operate in the war-torn country. The signatories include the Mercy Corps, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee.

Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across Yemen to protest against the designation and sanctions imposed on the Houthis. Protesters also rallied against the ongoing US-backed, Saudi-led aggression. Protests were held across 24 major areas of Sanaa and 14 other provinces. A “Global Day of Action for Yemen” also took place online with support from various activists around the world.

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