İrem UZUN -TDO- The United States will designate Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a terrorist group, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “The designations are intended to hold Ansar Allah accountable for its terrorist acts, including cross-border attacks threatening civilian populations, infrastructure and commercial shipping,” Pompeo said in a statement, using the official name of the Houthi movement. 

With just 10 days left before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, the announcement on Sunday could complicate the new U.S. administration’s efforts to restart diplomacy with Iran, which has ties to the Houthis and to reassess the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, which has led a brutal offensive in Yemen. Aid organizations have said they may be prevented from operating in areas where millions are on the brink of famine. "This is pure diplomatic vandalism," said the president of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband. A Houthi leader accused President Donald Trump's administration of terrorism and said the movement reserved the right to respond to any designation.

The conflict has led to what the UN says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, killing more than 112,000 people and leaving most of the 30 million-strong population dependent on aid to survive.  Malnutrition and outbreaks of disease such as cholera are rife. The arrival of COVID-19 and western aid cuts in 2020 have driven what remains of Yemen’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse. About 70% of Yemenis live in areas controlled by the Houthis, making them especially vulnerable to the new U.S. rules. 

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