SANA’A (Dispatches) – The United States has temporarily lifted a ban on transactions involving Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement as it reviews a decision by former president Donald Trump’s administration to designate the group as a "foreign terrorist organization”.
The announcement on Monday permits all transactions involving the Houthis, who have resisted an aggression by Saudi Arabia and its allies since 2015.
It comes a day after 22 aid organizations working in the war-torn country called on the U.S. to lift the "terrorist” designation about concerns it would exacerbate a continuing humanitarian crisis and risk plunging the country into widespread famine.
The joint appeal was issued by Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Save the Children and Norwegian Refugee Council, among others.
"This designation comes at a time when famine is a very real threat to a country devastated by six years of conflict,” said the 22 groups.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the Houthi designation on January 19, a day before President Joe Biden took office.
The U.S. Treasury Department on Monday issued a license authorizing transactions until February 26 involving Ansarullah, which allows all transactions with or by the group or any entity in which it owns 50% percent or more.
The Treasury specifically stated in a Frequently Asked Question, "Foreign financial institutions do not risk exposure to … sanctions … if they knowingly conduct or facilitate a transaction” for the Houthis.
Trump was a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia, offering logistical help and military sales for the kingdom’s six-year war on Yemen to dislodge the Ansarullah-led and Sana’a-based National Salvation Government, which is controlling much of the war-torn country.
On Monday, tens of thousands of Yemenis marched in Sana’a, to condemn the United States for labeling Houthis a ‘terrorist’ group and backing the Saudi-led military coalition.
The protesters filled a wide avenue in the capital, many holding banners that read: "America is the mother of terrorism”.
"The American (designation) decision … does not only concern one group, but concerns every Yemeni, and thus, its consequences will be felt amongst all Yemenis,” Houthi official Mohammed Haidara, who was among demonstrators, told Reuters.
"Who is killing the Yemeni people?” they chanted. "America!”
Houthi official Ahmed Sharafeddine, who took part in the demonstration, told AFP the U.S. designation would backfire.
"It will only give us more strength and unity,” he said.
Another protestor said that the protest was "a reflection of the steadfastness” of Yemenis.
Since late 2014, Houthis have been running state affairs following the resignation of the Riyadh-back President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Months later in March 2015, the Saudi regime and a number of its allies launched the deadly war on Yemen to reinstall Hadi, but the campaign has flatly failed in the face of stiff resistance by the Yemeni armed forces.