US maintains sanctions on Houthis after ‘reprehensible’ actions

Special US maintains sanctions on Houthis after ‘reprehensible’ actions
The new US administration has condemned the “reprehensible actions” of Houthi terror groups in Yemen. (File/AP)
Short Url
Updated 12 February 2021

US maintains sanctions on Houthis after ‘reprehensible’ actions

US maintains sanctions on Houthis after ‘reprehensible’ actions
  • Three Houthi leaders to remain under US sanctions: Blinken
  • Spokesman Price said the Biden administration continues to support Saudi Arabia

CHICAGO: The new US administration has condemned the “reprehensible actions” of Houthi terror groups in Yemen, warning that Washington will continue to “keep up the pressure” on the militia’s leadership.
US efforts to end the war in Yemen did not signal a change in its attitude toward the Houthis, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
In a wide-ranging press briefing on Thursday, Price also said that the US opposes “unilateral” action by both sides in the Palestine-Israel conflict and that President Joe Biden was “moving forward” on plans to restore aid to the Palestinians.
Biden lifted the “terrorist” designation imposed on the Houthis by former President Donald Trump during his final days in office. But Price reiterated that sanctions on key Houthi leaders and groups will remain.
“We will continue to keep up the pressure on the Houthis. If the Houthi leadership is under any illusion that the intent to revoke this designation suggests that we are going to let up the pressure on them, they are sorely mistaken,” he said.
“We will continue to have designations on the Houthi leaders Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, Abd Al-Khaliq Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi and Abdullah Yahya Al-Hakim. They will all remain designated under both UN sanctions and our sanction, which is related to acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen.”
Price said that the Biden administration continues to support Saudi Arabia. He condemned the recent Houthi attack on Abha airport and warned against any attacks on US sites, sentiments he said that have been expressed previously by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
“When the secretary communicated to Congress his intent to remove the designation of Ansar Allah as a broad movement, we made clear that it has nothing to do with our view of the Houthis and their reprehensible conduct,” Price said.
“We spoke forcefully and in no uncertain terms about their attacks on our partner Saudi Arabia, their kidnapping of American citizens and their malign influence throughout the region.”
Price said the administration’s intent to revoke the “broad umbrella designation” is based on “those humanitarian implications, the fact that as a country we do not want to do anything that would worsen the plight of the millions of Yemenis who live under Houthi control.”
He added: “Our goal is to support the diplomatic process, to move that forward under the auspices of the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.
“Our goal and our plan is to help our Saudi partners defend themselves. And we intend to take prudent steps like this to alleviate or at least not worsen the suffering of the Yemeni civilians who live under Houthi control.”
On the Palestine-Israel issue, Price defended Blinken’s refusal to respond to questions regarding Israeli control of East Jerusalem.
“Well, this has been the longstanding policy of the US, and I think this is what the secretary was referring to,” he said.
“The ultimate status of Jerusalem is, in fact, a final status issue which will need to be resolved by the parties in the context of direct negotiations. That is not a change to longstanding policy.”
Asked about the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Price said that the principle of opposing unilateral actions remained a core of the Biden administration’s policies to bring peace between the two sides.
“We believe it’s critical for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution,” Price said.
“What we have said — and this is the principle that is at play — is that we encourage Israel and the Palestinians to avoid unilateral steps that put the prospects of a two-state solution further out of reach.”