US considers re-designating Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen as terror group

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen publish a video showing how the group hijacked an Israeli-linked shipping vessel in the Red Sea on November 20, 2023. (Screen capture/X)
Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen publish a video showing how the group hijacked an Israeli-linked shipping vessel in the Red Sea on November 20, 2023. (Screen capture/X)

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby says the US has “begun a review” of whether it should re-designate the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen as a terror organization following the group’s hijacking of an Israeli-tied ship in the Red Sea and the series of missile attacks it has launched at Israel since the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

Kirby says the review was launched following “recent targeting of civilians by the Houthis” and “piracy of a ship in international waters.”

“The Houthis ought to release that ship immediately as well as the crew, and unconditionally,” Kirby says.

US President Joe Biden removed the Houthis terror designation shortly after entering the White House amid pressure from rights groups who said it was inhibiting efforts to supply aid to civilians in Yemen.

Kirby adds during a briefing that the US has identified an uptick in cooperation between Iran and Russia against Israel and Ukraine.

“Our information further indicates that [the] Wagner [Group], at the direction of the Russian government, was preparing to provide an air defense capability to either Hezbollah or Iran,” Kirby says.

Kirby adds that Iran is also considering providing Russia with ballistic missiles for use against Ukraine.

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