Huthis strike US vessel after being labeled terrorists

US move to reclassify Huthis as terrorists was aimed at increasing pressure on group, but it appears to have failed to deter them

American ship, the Genco Picardy. — x/A7_Mirza
American ship, the Genco Picardy. — x/A7_Mirza

In a defiant response to the United States’ decision to designate Yemen’s Huthis as a “terrorist” entity once again, the Iran-backed group claimed responsibility for an attack on an American vessel.

The move to reclassify the Huthis was aimed at increasing pressure on the group, but it appears to have failed to deter their military actions as they have vowed to continue their assaults.

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, announced the decision to designate the Huthis, also known as Ansarallah, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group, stating that it would be effective 30 days from the announcement. 

Despite this, the Huthis remained undeterred, proclaiming their responsibility for targeting an American ship, the Genco Picardy, in the Gulf of Aden with what they described as “a number of appropriate missiles.”

The Huthis justified their continued attacks by expressing solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel is engaged in conflict with the Hamas. They emphasised that they would persist in targeting ships they believe are linked to Israel or heading towards ports in occupied Palestine.

In response to the Huthi’s claim, the US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, stated that the terrorist designation was a crucial tool to hinder the group’s access to financial markets and impede terrorist funding. Sullivan added that the US would reconsider the designation if the Huthis ceased their attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

The US and Britain have been applying military and diplomatic pressure on the Huthis, targeting sites and advocating for an international coalition to safeguard shipping from rebel attacks. Recent actions include the destruction of anti-ship missiles in Yemen and airstrikes on Huthi-controlled locations.

This move to re-designate the Huthis comes after the Biden administration reversed the group’s terrorist designations in 2021, expressing concerns from aid groups that the designation hindered humanitarian efforts in Yemen. 

The US now asserts that the renewed designation offers better flexibility in ensuring the well-being of Yemeni civilians and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

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