According to sources, the Trump administration is set to designate the Houthi militia supported by Iran in Yemen as a foreign terrorist organization in the next days. However, a group of senators is attempting to return on the decision, and they said that such a move would make it difficult to negotiate a peace deal.
Despite that, it’s expected that the outgoing US administration continues in its maximum pressure campaign on Iran and its proxies in its final weeks at the White House and maybe escalate all of this. In fact, US officials do not publicly examine sanctions designations, but administration officials have affirmed to Al Arabiya English that the step is imminent.
Foreign Policy related firstly the anticipated move, despite it remains not clear if the whole militia will be sanctioned or only specific leaders and allies. Moreover, a senior US official traveling with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week to the Middle East also still silent over the decision. But the official informed reporters: We would hope that the Houthis would negotiate in good faith … with UN representative Martin Griffith towards finding a political solution for the war in Yemen.
Humanitarian groups oppose such a move saying that this might prevent efforts to provide badly-needed help to areas controlled by the Iran-backed militia. Furthermore, US Senators Chris Murphy, Todd Young and Chris Coons published a statement criticizing the potential designation because of their belief that it would almost certainly prevent the critical delivery of food, medical supplies, and other items necessary to combat both COVID-19 and famine.
Analysts also declars that this move could also perturb the private sector that Yemen deeply depends on for imports. Elana DeLozier, the Rubin Family Fellow in the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said: The Houthis are so involved in the local economy that it’s hard to be a businessperson or trader without going through a bank or shipping company affiliated with them [Houthis].
Nevertheless, the Trump administration and State Department have been regarding tools to allow exceptions or permission for humanitarian aid to continue flowing into the war-torn country without facing the threat of sanctions. The Trump administration wishes that such a step would pressure the Houthis to negotiate a political settlement with the local government to stop this war that during for a long time.
DeLozier also related that the administration thinks that this designation would create some leverage between the Arab coalition and the Iran-backed Houthis in the upcoming.
It should be noted that the Houthis launched on Monday a missile at a petroleum products distribution station in Jeddah, which causing a fire in a fuel tank. The fire was extinguished, and there were no wounds or casualties due to this assault.
Since last year, Saudi Arabia has been targeted with dozens of ballistic missile and drone assaults launched by the Houthis, and this comprised a devastating strike on Aramco’s facilities in the country’s east, which temporarily blocked the kingdom’s crude production.