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US contemplates redesigning Houthis as terror group following Red Sea ship seizure

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In response to the Houthi rebels’ recent claim of seizing a commercial ship in the Red Sea, the White House is weighing the option to reclassify them as a “terrorist” group. John Kirby, spokesperson for the United States National Security Council, condemned the act as “piracy in international waters” and accused the Houthis of recent attacks on civilians.

The incident occurred in the strategic Red Sea, home to the vital trade route through the Strait of Hormuz.

While President Joe Biden’s administration formally delisted the Houthis as a “foreign terrorist organization” and “specially designated global terrorists” in 2021, critics argue that such designations hindered aid deliveries to war-torn Yemen. The Iran-backed Houthis, controlling significant portions of northern Yemen and the capital Sanaa, have escalated tensions by targeting Israel with missile and drone attacks, posing a threat to Israeli vessels in the Red Sea.

The seizure of the Galaxy Leader ship by Houthi forces on Sunday, with its crew of 25 workers from various nations still held captive, prompted Kirby to call for their immediate release. He also accused Iran of complicity in these attacks, echoing concerns that the tactics employed by the Houthis mirror those of Iran.

The Houthis, positioning themselves as part of the “axis of resistance,” a network of armed groups supported by Iran and opposed to Israel and the US, have prompted the Biden administration to reconsider the “terror” designation at least once before. This potential redesignation, initially reversed to facilitate humanitarian aid to Yemen, is now under scrutiny as analysts warn of a possible escalation of Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

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