US keeps Houthi leaders under sanctions, issues stern warning

US keeps Houthi leaders under sanctions, issues stern warning
Three Houthi leaders are to remain under US sanctions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday. (File/AP)
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Updated 13 February 2021

US keeps Houthi leaders under sanctions, issues stern warning

US keeps Houthi leaders under sanctions, issues stern warning
  • Blinken: US is identifying new sanctions targets, especially those responsible for missile strikes on Kingdom
  • The US remains clear-eyed about Houthi malign actions and aggression

CHICAGO: Three Houthi leaders are to remain under US sanctions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.

“Ansarallah leaders Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, Abd Al-Khaliq Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya Al-Hakim remain sanctioned under E.O. 13611 related to acts that threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen,” Blinken said, referring to the Houthi militia by its formal name.

Blinken added in a statement that the US would “closely monitor” Houthi activities and is “actively identifying” new sanctions targets, especially those responsible for attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia.

The US “remains clear-eyed about Ansarallah’s malign actions, and aggression, including taking control of large areas of Yemen by force, attacking US partners in the Gulf, kidnapping and torturing citizens of the United States and many of our allies, diverting humanitarian aid, brutally repressing Yemenis in areas they control” and the attack on Yemen’s government in Aden at the end of last year, Blinken said.

The US designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group will end on Tuesday in hopes of supporting humanitarian efforts, Blinken announced. “The revocations are intended to ensure that relevant US policies do not impede assistance to those already suffering what has been called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” he said.

Earlier, the new US administration condemned the “reprehensible actions” of the Houthis, 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.

“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.

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.

“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: “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.”