New sanctions and bombings will likely slow aid distribution in the Middle East’s poorest country: Yemen

by Connor Echols, Responsible Statecraft

In early 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken removed the Houthis from the State Department’s lists of foreign terror groups, reversing a last-minute Trump administration move.

“This decision is a recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen,” Blinken said at the time. “We have listened to warnings from the United Nations, humanitarian groups, and bipartisan members of Congress, among others, that the designations could have a devastating impact on Yemenis’ access to basic commodities like food and fuel.”

Yemeni girl sitting on rubble of school

Three years later, the situation in Yemen remains precarious, but the Biden administration has changed its calculus. Amid a Houthi campaign of attacks on ships headed toward Israel, Blinken announced that the U.S. will redesignate the organization as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist group (SDGT) next month. (The Houthis say their attacks would stop if Israel ends its assault on Gaza.)

This designation, though less stringent than the one imposed by the Trump administration, will likely complicate the distribution of aid in Yemen, according to Ashleigh Subramanian-Montgomery, the associate director of the Charity and Security Network. In practice, U.S. and UK airstrikes have already forced some aid groups to cut back operations in the country.

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