Pompeo Reportedly Behind Push To Designate Yemen’s Houthi Movement as Terrorists
Nov. 17, 2020 (EIRNS)—Foreign Policy reported yesterday that the Trump Administration, led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is mulling designating the Houthi Ansarallah movement in Yemen a terrorist organization, a move that would clearly have devastating impacts on international efforts to end the war and on humanitarian relief efforts in territory controlled by the Houthis. FP reports that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, UN relief agencies, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, Sweden and Germany, career layers in the State Department and the U.S. military all oppose such a move, but it has been fast tracked by Pompeo with the backing of Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., which have both already labeled the Houthis as terrorists. The reality is that the Houthis are the victims of a nearly six-year bombing campaign waged by the Saudis in Yemen. “They have been contemplating this for a while, but Pompeo wants this fast-tracked,” said one diplomatic source. “It’s part of the scorched-earth policy the sour grapes in the White House are taking.”
“It is a mistake. This is an inflammatory move from Secretary of State Pompeo and the Trump Administration to take,” said Gregory Johnsen, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution. “It would basically box in the new President when he wants to take a new approach to the war in Yemen, and cut back on the Saudi war.”
“There is no doubt that the Houthis have led a brutal military campaign that has starved, imprisoned and killed many civilians,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) claimed. “But if the U.S. government is going to designate international actors for intentionally harming civilians in Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition should also be at the top of that list.”
What’s motivating the designation is not so much what the Houthis are alleged to be doing but rather the maximum pressure campaign against Iran. The U.S. has already designated Iran’s IRGC a terrorist group, a decision instigated in April 2019 by both Pompeo and then-National Security Adviser John Bolton. “The legal bar for designating the Houthis has been made lower since the designation of the IRGC,” said Elana DeLozier, an expert on Yemen at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Since the U.S. now considers the IRGC a terrorist group, any group they support—including the Houthis—is low-hanging fruit for designation,” she stated.