Reverse the Terrorist Designation of Ansar Allah in Yemen

  January 15, 2021

PartnersGlobal and PartnersYemen strongly urge the U.S. Department of State to reverse the designation of Ansar Allah, commonly known as the Houthis, as a terrorist organization.

Because of this decision, desperately needed humanitarian aid, as well as goods and personnel coming from the United States of America, will be prevented from entering northern Yemen, where 70 percent of the population lives. Today, after six years of war, nearly 80 percent of Yemen’s population is living below the poverty line; 120,000 have died and 500,000 have been wounded; and more than 7 million have been displaced both internally and outside the country. Those that remain lack access to basic necessities—food, water, and medicine. Every day this designation remains, the suffering of the most vulnerable families in Yemen will mount. The lives of millions are at stake.

Further, this designation counteracts years-long peacebuilding efforts by the international community and impacts the United Nations-led political peace process. This is not in the interest of Yemenis, the international community, or the United States. Therefore, we call on President-elect Biden and his administration to freeze and revoke this decision upon taking office; and we call on Congress to respond immediately to reverse this designation.

For over a decade, PartnersGlobal and PartnersYemen have been working with communities most besieged by the conflict in Yemen, including those in northern Yemen. We have gained the trust of actors on both sides of this conflict and together worked to mediate disputes, improve governance and service delivery, and, most importantly, lay the foundations for long-term stability and peace. PartnersGlobal and PartnersYemen are part of a network of humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding organizations working throughout the country to similarly build the foundations for lasting stability and peace. This new designation threatens this work and only serves to prolong the conflict.

Scott Paul, Humanitarian Policy Lead at Oxfam of America, said, “Secretary Pompeo’s designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization is a dangerous and useless policy, and it will also endanger the lives of innocent people. This designation will not help in resolving the conflict, nor in achieving justice for the violations and abuses committed during the war; this will only escalate the suffering for millions of Yemenis who struggle to survive.”

One former minister and businessman said, “The decision will return us to the starting point of the conflict at a time when the various parties had entered a phase of fatigue and found a willingness to make painful concessions.”

Unfortunately, this sentiment has been echoed by Yemeni leaders throughout the country as well as those in the international community most familiar with the conflict.

We are calling on the United States to play a constructive role in resolving Yemen’s devastating conflict and mitigating the disastrous effects on the population. The United States is uniquely positioned to do this, but this new designation does the opposite.