In response to a series of recent attacks in the Red Sea, the Biden administration is set to redesignate Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis as a terrorist group, reversing their removal from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list in 2021. While it remains unclear if the Houthis will be placed on the Specially Designated Global Terrorist list, officials have indicated various sanction options as alternatives.
The decision follows a surge in Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea, attributed by the group to Israel’s military actions against Hamas. U.S. Central Command confirmed an attack on the Maltese-flagged bulk carrier M/V Zografia, emphasizing its seaworthiness and no reported injuries.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken had delisted the Houthis in 2021 to facilitate humanitarian aid to Yemen, overturning former President Trump’s FTO designation. The recent Houthi assaults in the Red Sea have disrupted global shipping, compelling numerous vessels to reroute. Houthi threats and hostage-taking of mariners from over 20 countries have raised international concerns.
In response, U.S. forces destroyed four Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles in Yemen, aiming to prevent an escalation of the conflict. The Biden administration has expressed apprehensions about wider regional conflicts amid attacks by groups linked to Iran in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.