WASHINGTON (AP) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Sunday that he would name Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels as a “foreign terrorist organization” as time passes on the Trump administration. The designation will take effect on January 19, a day before the presidential election.
The announcement comes in the form of Pompeo and his top aides running to carry out tasks he believes will be his legacy and the role of president. In addition to the Houthi designation, Pompeo is also likely to re-designate Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” according to several administrator officials in the coming days.
Both steps will ban or impose targets and could complicate the diplomacy of the incoming Biden administration. Pompeo on Saturday angered China when it declared null and void the ban on US diplomatic contact with Taiwanese authorities. In addition, Pompeo planned to forge a clear relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda before leaving office on 20 January and hit more Iranian entities with sanctions.
Officials were not authorized to discuss the stages publicly as they have not yet been announced and spoken on condition of anonymity.
The administration had been weighing the formal designation of the Houthi rebels as a “foreign terrorist organization” for months. But that effort was turned into an internal disagreement as to whether sanctions could be effectively implemented without worsening the serious humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
The Treasury Department’s objections were apparently overcome last week as arrangements were made to continue certain waivers of sanctions for aid work.
Late Sunday night, Pompeo announced that he was moving forward with the designation of Houthis. It is also known as Ansarsallah, with different terrorist designations of three senior rebel leaders.
“This designation will provide additional equipment to counter terrorist activity and terrorism by Ansaralla, an Iran-backed militia group in the Gulf region,” he said. “The designations are intended to hold Ansarallah accountable for terrorist activities, including cross-border attacks that threaten civilian populations, infrastructure and commercial shipping. “
The designation was considered even before complaints from relief organizations that warned of sanctions could prove disastrous for efforts to help keep Yemeni citizens hungry, caught in conflict between the Houthis and the Yemeni government Are supported by Saudi Arabia.
“The United States acknowledges concerns that these designations will have an impact on the humanitarian situation in Yemen,” Pompeo said in his statement. “We plan to take measures to reduce some human activities and their impact in Yemen.”
He said those measures include the issuance of special licenses by the Treasury, so that American aid can continue to flow into Yemen and humanitarian organizations can continue to operate there.
President Donald Trump has taken a tough stance on Cuba and has withdrawn several sanctions that the Obama administration relaxed as part of a broader relationship with the Communist island. Removing Cuba from its list of “state sponsors of terrorism” was an important component of that effort, and re-listing the country has been Pompeo’s long-term goal.
According to officials, such a designation is a legal one and it was not immediately clear on Sunday if all the technical criteria required to restore the list to Cuba were met. Officials said that to remove Cuba from the list, the Obama administration had determined that the country no longer supports international terrorism, but Pompeo as a major justification for the move by Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro of Cuba. Support is expected to be cited.
Pompeo is also expected to provide comment later this week for members of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network for allegedly harassing and supporting Iran. In November, the US, officials said Iran was harassing al-Qaeda’s No. 2, Abu Muhammad al-Masri, who was killed by Israeli agents in Iran in August with the widow of his daughter, Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden. Had given.
The Trump administration has continued to exert pressure on Iran as the president withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018 and began re-enforcing sanctions under the agreement, aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
On Saturday, Pompeo announced that he was removing all restrictions on contacts between US diplomats and Taiwanese officials. Those sanctions have been in place since 1979 when the US formally adopted a “one China” policy and recognized Beijing after abandoning formal diplomatic relations with Taipei.
Pompeo has been at the forefront of the administration’s push to go after China for its actions in Taiwan, over discontent and human rights rifts in Tibet, Hong Kong and the western Xinjiang region, as well as Beijing’s disputed maritime claims in the South China Sea .