On the 10th of January 2021, the Yemen-based Houthi rebels (formally Ansar Allah) were designated as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) by the United States of America. This designation has been in motion for months now but did not formally take place until yesterday. The consequences of this label could be catastrophic, particularly for the millions of people that are on the brink of famine in Houthi controlled areas. Despite the many attempts to lobby the US Government away from this designation by humanitarian aid organizations, experts in the field, and companies operating in Yemen, the US Government proceeded with this designation out of spite.
Elisa Cherry, BIC Middle East Analyst said: “The ramifications of this action taken by the US government could be catastrophic. The conflict, now in its sixth year, has killed over 100,000 people and has resulted in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Humanitarian aid organizations operating in Yemen could be further restricted in their abilities to operate in Houthi-controlled areas, where the majority of Yemen’s population live reliant upon aid organizations for their livelihood. The Houthis control many of the major cities, as well as the port of Hodeidah where nearly 90 percent of the country’s imports enter. Aid organizations that are operating in this area could face prosecution for their actions, materials goods that are transferred in terrorist designated areas could be seen as support for terrorist organizations from the humanitarian organizations.”