Biden Considering Change After Strikes
On February 5, 2021, President Joe Biden’s administration announced that they would be removing the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen from the Foreign Terrorist Organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist lists. The decision to revoke these designations comes after widespread international condemnation of former President Donald Trump’s last-minute decision to designate the group.
A State Department official confirmed on Friday that the removal of the Houthis from these lists was approved by Secretary of State Antony Blinken after a comprehensive review. The official stated that Secretary Blinken intends to revoke the designations, which would allow for the delivery of critical aid and food to the Yemeni people, who are currently facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
The decision to remove the Houthis from the lists came just over 24 hours after President Biden’s administration announced that they would be ending American support for Saudi-led offensive operations against the Houthis in Yemen. This decision also included a freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The State Department officially notified Congress of its intention to remove the Houthis from the list and stated that they would provide more details in the coming days.
The move to remove the Houthis from the lists comes after the U.S. and British militaries conducted a large retaliatory strike in Yemen on January 12, 2024, using warship- and submarine-launched Tomahawk missiles and fighter jets. According to U.S. officials, the strikes targeted over 60 sites, including “command-and-control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities, and air defense radar systems.”
President Biden stated that the strikes were meant to show that the U.S. and its allies will not tolerate the Houthis’ ceaseless attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea. He also stated that the decision to strike was made after attempts at diplomatic negotiations and careful deliberation.
However, the Houthis have vowed to retaliate, with a senior Houthi official stating that the battle will be “bigger” and “beyond the imagination and expectation of the Americans and the British.” On Friday, the Houthis fired an anti-ship ballistic missile into the Gulf of Aden, but no ships were hit.
During a call with reporters, senior administration and military officials stated that the U.S. expects the strikes to degrade the Houthis’ capabilities. However, they also stated that they would not be surprised to see a response from the Houthis. The officials also stated that the U.S. used warplanes from the Navy aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and Air Force fighter jets for the strikes, while Navy destroyers and a submarine-launched the Tomahawk missiles.
The Houthis’ attacks have not only endangered U.S. personnel and civilian mariners in the Red Sea, but they have also threatened a crucial trade route that connects Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on Wednesday, demanding that the Houthis cease their attacks and implicitly condemn their weapons supplier, Iran.
The U.K. also participated in the strikes, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stating that the Royal Air Force conducted targeted strikes against military facilities used by the Houthis. Sunak stated that the U.K. took “limited, necessary and proportionate action in self-defense” alongside the U.S. and with support from the Netherlands, Canada, and Bahrain.
The decision to remove the Houthis from the lists and conduct retaliatory strikes was seen as an effort by the Biden administration to use a broad international coalition to battle the Houthis, rather than go at it alone. The administration has also been wary of taking action in Yemen that could trigger a wider conflict in the Middle East.
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 12, 2024