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US lawmakers: Designating Houthis as terrorist, death sentence for thousands of Yemenis

A group of US lawmakers have warned against the United States plans to designate Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement as a foreign “terrorist” group, urging Washington to reverse the decision.

In a post on his Twitter account on Monday, US Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said, “The designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization is a death sentence for thousands of Yemenis,” adding that the move will cut off humanitarian aid and make intra-Yemen peace talks nearly impossible.

He further said President-elect Joe Biden should reverse this policy as soon as he takes office.

Murphy’s remarks came a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he intends to designate the Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist group in defiance of aid groups who fear the move will worsen a humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country.

The Houthis will be blacklisted on January 19 — one day before Biden’s inauguration — unless US Congress blocks the decision.

Democratic lawmaker Gregory Meeks also said, “No solution in Yemen will be sustainable unless the Houthis are involved.”

He further said the outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump “is only pushing a political solution to the conflict further out of reach,” by designating the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization.

Meeks also urged a “speedy reversal” of the decision, but warned that “the damage will be done” even if the designation were to be reversed quickly by the Biden administration.

Republican Senator Todd Young also said Pompeo’s move “will further destabilize a war-torn country” and block aid groups from delivering vital relief.

“I look forward to working with President-elect Biden and his team to overturn this misguided decision,” he said.

UN warns of serious repercussions if US blacklists Yemen’s Houthis

In a related development, the United Nations warned on Monday that the US plan to designate Yemen’s Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization is “likely to have serious humanitarian and political repercussions.”

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric was quoted by Reuters as saying it is imperative that the United States “swiftly grant the necessary licenses and exemptions to ensure that principled humanitarian assistance can continue to reach all people … without disruption.”

The UN official added that the United Nations was “concerned that the designation may have a detrimental impact on efforts to resume the political process in Yemen, as well as to polarize even more the positions of the parties to the conflict.”

Saudi Arabia has been leading a war on Yemen since March 2015, in hopes of reinstating former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and destroying the Houthi movement.

The war, which the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the impoverished Arab country over the last six years.

The United States and a number of European countries are major suppliers of weapons to the Saudi-led coalition.

The Houthi Ansarullah movement, backed by armed forces, has been defending Yemen against the Saudi-led alliance, preventing the aggressors from fulfilling the objectives of the atrocious war.

Diplomats and aid groups worry the US designation of Ansarullah could threaten peace talks and complicate efforts to combat the world’s largest humanitarian crisis caused by the Saudi-led coalition’s aggression against the Yemeni nation.

In November, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Yemen was in “imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades,” warning against any unilateral moves as the United States threatened to blacklist the Houthis.

Under US law, Congress has seven days to review and reject a designation of a terrorist group.

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