The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen are blocking international aid to millions of suffering people, a State Department spokesperson told Breitbart News on Tuesday.
The Biden administration recently de-listed the Houthi group from the government’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) explicitly in a bid to convince them to allow aid into the country.
Despite the failure of the aid to reach those in need, the Biden administration announced millions in additional humanitarian assistance to the country this week.
State Department officials asserted the February 16 reversal of the Trump administration’s move to add the Houthi organization to the FTO list was essential to allow life-saving aid from America and its partners to reach all Yemenis. The Houthi group’s terrorist designations came with severe sanctions.
It’s a fact that Iran is sponsoring the Houthis. It’s a fact that the Houthis are conducting terror.
The reality is that revoking the terrorist designation of the Houthis is a gift to the Iranians & will allow the Houthis to continue to foment terror around the world.
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) February 10, 2021
Breitbart News inquired about the Houthis potentially benefiting from the nearly $200 million in additional American taxpayer-funded aid to Yemen announced Monday by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and what the Biden Administration is planning to do to prevent that from happening.
“We call on all parties to provide unhindered access for humanitarian actors to deliver assistance to those who need it most,” a State spokesperson responded. “Ongoing interference in international aid operations by the Houthis in Yemen has prevented millions of people from receiving the assistance they need to survive.”
“We are also increasingly concerned by attempts by parties in southern Yemen to interfere with aid operations there as well,” the official added.
While the internationally-recognized government controls most of the territory in Yemen, nearly 80 percent of people live in the Houthi areas, which lies in and around the capital of Sanaa.
Since the Yemen civil war began nearly six years ago, the U.S. has provided more than $3.4 billion to alleviate the country’s humanitarian crisis, including more than $350 million alone since the end of September 2020 alone, Blinken acknowledged Monday.
“God Is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, a Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam” is the official motto of the Iran-allied Houthis, Breitbart News has reported.
“The funding announced yesterday is providing urgently-needed life-saving assistance to Yemenis affected by one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises,” the spokesperson told Breitbart News on Tuesday. “This funding is intended for the millions of innocent women, children, and men who are suffering because of this war.”
“We take our responsibility to safeguard valuable taxpayer resources seriously; no amount of fraud, waste, and abuse of U.S. funding is acceptable,” the official added.
After acknowledging that the Houthis continue to interfere with humanitarian aid operations, the Biden administration asserted that it relies on the “aggressive risk mitigation systems” put in place by U.S. partners in Yemen.
Those systems “ensure U.S. taxpayer-funded humanitarian assistance is directly reaching those for whom it is intended,” the spokesperson told Breitbart News.
“We have begun to see the Houthis make some progress in reducing their obstructionist behaviors, such as … [continuing to] work with our humanitarian partners and other donors to make further progress,” the spokesperson also said.
In announcing the aid Monday, Blinken implored the Houthis “to cease interference in aid operations to ensure assistance is reaching its intended recipients.”
“[Aid] agencies depend on the Houthis to deliver aid, and they pay salaries to Houthis to do so,” the Associated Press (AP) reported in early February.
In late 2020, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Houthis of “obstructing aid agencies from reaching civilians in need, at least in part to divert aid to Houthi officials, their supporters, and Houthi fighters.”
In keeping with a promise to continue targeting individual members of the Shiite group, Secretary Blinken announced Tuesday that the Biden team was sanctioning two key Houthi military leaders for obtaining weapons from Iran to carry out attacks against civilians in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Consistent with previous remarks, the secretary of state on Tuesday criticized the same group he delisted as terrorists for “malign and aggressive actions,” including “preventing humanitarian aid access [and] repressing the Yemeni people in areas they control,” among other things.
According to the spokesperson from State, the U.S. is supporting ongoing humanitarian operations across the country to provide food, water, sanitation, and support efforts to contain the Chinese coronavirus, among other things.
The State official acknowledged that in March 2020, Houthi interference forced the U.S. to partially suspend NGO assistance in northern Yemen, the Shiite group’s stronghold that borders Saudi Arabia.
Still, the U.S. continues “to support our [United Nations] partners countrywide, critical life-saving NGO activities in northern Yemen, and remain fully operational in the south,” the spokesperson added.
Soon after the Yemeni capital fell to the Houthis, a Saudi Arabia-led Sunni coalition launched an ongoing effort in early 2015 to restore the internationally recognized government.
After Trump’s move to add the Houthis to the U.S. terrorist lists, the Biden Administration has condemned the group’s attacks on civilians and infrastructure in Saudi Arabia several times.