FLASHBACK: February 5 2021
The State Department has informed Congress of its intent to reverse the Trump administration’s eleventh-hour decision to designate Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a foreign terrorist organization, a State Department official. So said this CNN report of three years ago CNN.
In February 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken delisted the Yemeni Houthi as both a Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) and as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT). Now, almost exactly three years later, it’s obvious this was a huge mistake. He was reversing a Trump/Pompeo move of just a month earlier.
“After a comprehensive review, we can confirm that the secretary intends to revoke the foreign terrorist organization and specially designated global terrorist designations of Ansarallah,” the official said, using another name for the Houthis. “We have formally notified Congress of the secretary’s intent to revoke these designations and will share more details in the coming days.”
“Secretary (Antony) Blinken has been clear about undertaking an expeditious review of the designations of Ansarallah given the profound implications for the people of Yemen, home to the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe,” the official said, adding that the “decision has nothing to do with our view of the Houthis and their reprehensible conduct, including attacks against civilians and the kidnapping of American citizens.”
“We are committed to helping Saudi Arabia defend its territory against further such attacks,” the official said. “Our action is due entirely to the humanitarian consequences of this last-minute designation from the prior administration, which the United Nations and humanitarian organizations have since made clear would accelerate the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” …
…Sen. Chris Murphy, a longtime critic of the Saudi campaign in Yemen, praised the administration’s move to rescind the designation.
“The Biden administration’s decision to reverse the Houthi FTO designation is another signal of their commitment to end the war in Yemen,” the Connecticut Democrat said in a statement Friday.
With Hamas decimated by Israel and Hezbollah reluctant to join the fight, @ghoshworld argues that the Houthis of Yemen have become Iran’s most important proxy https://t.co/2yCERpYFrT pic.twitter.com/AwnspKFWuQ— Bloomberg Opinion (@opinion) January 4, 2024
Fast-forward three years
As we all know the Houthis are now holding the western world hostage by their tight control of the narrow entry to the Red Sea. The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is on a key maritime trade route connecting the Indian Ocean to the Suez Canal. The likely effect, as well as local chaos and possible harm to crews, will be felt in increased commodity prices. In fact, the Yemeni rebels represent a greater danger to the world economy than Hezbollah or Hamas.
The Houthis are an armed group from a sub-sect of Yemen’s Shia Muslim minority, the Zaidis. They take their name from the movement’s founder, Hussein al Houthi and are based northern Yemen
The group was formed in the 1990s to combat what they saw as the corruption of the then-president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. President Saleh, backed by Saudi Arabia’s military, tried to eliminate the Houthi rebels in 2003, but the Houthis repelled them both.
Following the October 7th massacre in Israel, the Houthis declared their support for Hamas and said they will target any ship traveling to Israel. Now, they’re threatening maritime traffic on the Red Sea. They are sponsored by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who coincidentally suffered a major blow yesterday when 103 people were killed at the grave of Qassim Soleimani, the figurehead of Iran’s global terrorist operations, who was killed 20 years ago. America and Israel claim no responsibility.
Amidst the maritime chaos unfolding in the Red Sea, here is a simple graphic detailing recent incidents in Bab-el-Mandeb region, this visual encapsulates current challenges faced by one of the globe's busiest shipping routes pic.twitter.com/fj2d5RNNi5— Damien Symon (@detresfa_) December 16, 2023