(New York, N.Y.) – The U.S. State Department is reportedly planning on designating the Yemen-based Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The renewed focus on designating the Iran-backed group follows a terrorism and intelligence review deliberated by the State Department in September. If imposed, the FTO designation would sanction the Houthis, prohibit any U.S. contact with the group, and isolate them financially.
In April 2015, then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew designated Houthi military, spiritual, and political leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, as a Specially Designated National (SDN). The U.S. reportedly paused plans to impose an FTO designation on the Houthis in 2018 but halted due to international aid concerns.
Yemeni officials have long accused Iran’s Shiite Islamist regime of providing political, financial, and logistical support to the Houthi rebels and other secessionist movements in Yemen. Despite a 2009 U.N. report confirming such claims, Iran and the Houthis have historically denied engaging in past cooperation. Nevertheless, other reports subsequently confirmed Iranian support, including a Reuters article in December of 2014 confirming financial backing by Tehran. One source stated, “We think there is cash, some of which is channeled via Hezbollah and sacks of cash arriving at the airport.” In 2015, the regime finally acknowledged providing “direct support” to the Houthis.
The Houthis have also received training and military equipment from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is itself a designated FTO. The Houthis have detained numerous foreign nationals, including at least five Americans, and have waged a series of bloody insurgencies against the Yemeni government since 2004, overthrowing them and seizing power in Sanaa in 2015.
To read CEP’s Houthis resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s resource, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, please click here.