C&SN, a coalition of more than 500 civil society representatives dedicated to protecting the rights of nonprofit organizations that help communities and address pressing human rights issues, urges Secretary Pompeo and the Trump Administration to immediately stop the process of designating the Houthis in Yemen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
According to a State Department statement issued on January 10 2021, Pompeo has notified Congress of his intent to “designate Ansarallah – sometimes referred to as the Houthis – as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity, pursuant to Executive Order 13224.”
Experts argue that the designation will do little to alter Houthi behavior and could strengthen their ties with Iran, while condemning millions to greater starvation and health risks. Moreover, it will undermine the fragile peace process being cultivated there.
What C&SN said barely seven weeks ago is still true: The civilian population in Yemen, some 29 million people, have endured nearly six years of civil war, natural disasters and dire economic and resource conditions. The UN World Food Program has called their situation a “countdown to catastrophe” with roughly 80 percent of the population dependent on aid for survival and aid funding cut back significantly.
Should the Houthis be designated an FTO, it would trigger a range of laws, regulations and restrictions that would effectively shut down the humanitarian aid programs underway there. It is these programs, run by a variety of international nongovernmental organizations, that are preventing – barely – such catastrophe. In short, the current raft of food, medicine and financial access that Yemenis cling to, already at insufficient levels, would be sunk. Moreover, these same limitations would greatly inhibit, if not completely cut off, the ability of U.S. individuals to participate in any peacebuilding discussions or procedures. This would condemn Yemen and its neighbors to an elongated conflict and the daunting conditions such wars perpetuate.
C&SN implores Secretary of State Pompeo to immediately suspend the designation process. Only suffering and prolonged conflict will result.