In addition to the designation of Houthi, Mr. Pompeo is also expected to designate Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” in the coming days, according to several administration officials.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that he will designate the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen as a “foreign terrorist organization” as time passes on the Donald Trump administration. The appointment will take effect on January 19, one day before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
Sunday’s announcement comes as Mr Pompeo and his key aides scramble to complete the actions they believe will cement their legacy and presidents. In addition to the designation of Houthi, Mr. Pompeo is also expected to designate Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” in the coming days, according to several administration officials.
Both movements will impose or reimpose sanctions on targets and could complicate the diplomacy of the new Biden administration. On Saturday, Pompeo angered China when he declared restrictions on US diplomatic contacts with Taiwanese officials void. In addition, Pompeo plans before he leaves office on Jan. 20 to establish explicit ties between Iran and Al-Qaida and strike more Iranian entities with sanctions, officials said.
Officials were not permitted to publicly discuss the milestones as they have yet to be announced and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The administration had weighed for months the official designation of the Houthi rebels as “foreign terrorist organization”. But that effort has become mired in internal disagreements over whether the sanctions can be effectively enforced without exacerbating the grave humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
The Treasury Department’s objections were apparently overcome last week after some exemptions from sanctions allowing aid activities to continue were arranged.
Late Sunday, Mr Pompeo announced he was proceeding with the designation of the Houthis, also known as the Ansarsallah, as well as separate terrorist designations of three senior rebel leaders.
“These designations will provide additional tools to deal with the terrorist activities and terrorism of Ansarallah, a deadly Iran-backed militia in the Gulf region,” he said. “The designations aim to hold Ansarallah accountable for its terrorist acts, including cross-border attacks threatening civilians, infrastructure and commercial shipping. The review of the designation had previously sparked complaints from relief organizations who warned that the sanctions could prove catastrophic for efforts to help starving Yemeni civilians who have been caught in the conflict between the Houthis and the government. Yemeni, supported by Saudi Arabia.
“The United States is aware of fears that these designations may have an impact on the humanitarian situation in Yemen,” Pompeo said in his statement. “We plan to put in place measures to reduce their impact on some humanitarian activities and imports into Yemen.” These measures will include the issuance of special licenses by the Treasury to allow US aid to continue to flow into Yemen and humanitarian organizations to continue working there, he said.
President Donald Trump has taken a firm line on Cuba and rescinded many of the sanctions the Obama administration had relaxed or lifted as part of a broader rapprochement with the communist island. The removal of Cuba from the list of “sponsor states of terrorism” has been a key part of this effort, and the country’s re-listing has been a long-term goal for Mr. Pompeo.
Such a designation is legal and it was not immediately clear on Sunday whether all the technical criteria necessary to bring Cuba back to the list had been met, officials said. By removing Cuba from the list, the Obama administration had determined that the country no longer supported international terrorism, but Pompeo should cite Cuban support for Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro as a major justification for the move, officials said.
Mr Pompeo is also expected to deliver remarks later this week, denouncing Iran for its alleged refuge and support for members of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network. In November, in the United States, officials said Iran was harboring Al Qaeda No.2 Abu Muhammad al-Masri, who was killed in August by Israeli agents in Iran along with his daughter, the widow of bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden.
The Trump administration has steadily stepped up pressure on Iran since the president withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018 and began reimposing sanctions that had been relaxed as part of the deal, which aimed to curb Iran’s atomic program.
On Saturday, Pompeo announced that he was lifting all restrictions on contact between US diplomats and Taiwanese officials. These restrictions had been in place since the United States formally adopted its “one China” policy in 1979 and recognized Beijing after abandoning formal diplomatic relations with Taipei.
Mr Pompeo has been at the forefront of administration efforts to attack China for actions in Taiwan, crackdown on dissent and human rights in Tibet, Hong Kong and western Xinjiang, as well as Beijing’s disputed maritime claims in southern China. Sea.