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Yemen's government calls on international community to designate Houthi rebels 'terrorist organisation'

Houthi rebels have not yet issued a response. [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 December, 2020

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Yemen's Houthi rebels should be placed on International Terror lists, the country's presidency has said.
Yemen's government on Sunday called for the country's Houthi rebels to be added to international terror lists, state media reported.

The designation request came against the backdrop of meetings between Yemeni officials and US representatives in Riyadh.

According to the state-run Saba agency, Yemeni Vice President Ali Saleh met with US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker on Sunday to discuss Houthi attacks on both Yemen and Saudi Arabia. 

The meeting – also attended by Washington's ambassador to Yemen, Christopher Hanzel – followed reports of plans by US President Donald Trump's administration to complete the designation before leaving office on January 20.

Saleh accused the Houthis of increasing ballistic missile and drone attacks on Yemeni and Saudi cities and called on the international community to take action against the Iran-backed group.

"The Houthi behaviour puts the international community in a position to respond to popular, political and legal demands to punish the group and quickly place it on the terror list," Saleh was quoted as saying.

Houthi representatives did not immediately respond to the comments.

International rights groups and activists have warned against sanctions on Yemen's Houthis – already under US sanctions – citing concerns that further penalties could deter aid to the country. 

Yemen is divided between Houthi rebels in the north and an internationally-recognised government in the south. Both sides have been at war since the Iran-backed Houthis seized the capital of Sanaa in 2014, forcing the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.

In Mach 2015, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states formed a coalition to fight alongside the government.

Read also: Yemen in Focus: Could US terror designation be used to leverage Houthis?

The conflict has killed more than 100,000 people and created the world's worst humanitarian disaster, with more than two-thirds of the population relying on food aid for survival.

A deterrance to aid, resulting from sanctions, would have catastrophic ramifications in Yemen, activists have warned.

The UN has said 80 percent of Yemen's population - more than 24 million people - need aid, including 10 million who rely on food aid.

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