Biden’s Houthi Sanctions Include Energy Deal Exception

( – The Biden administration last week returned the Houthi rebels in Yemen to the list of designated terrorist groups over their attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, Reuters reported.

According to White House officials, the designation assigned, “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” would impose harsh sanctions on the Houthi rebels aimed at cutting off the funding and weapons the group has used to launch attacks on international shipping lanes.

In a statement last week, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said redesignating the Houthis would be an “important tool to impede terrorist funding” and restrict the group’s access to global financial markets while holding the group responsible for its actions.

Sullivan said that if the Houthis stop their attacks in the region, the US would “immediately reevaluate this designation.”

However, the sanctions against the Houthi rebels include specific “carve-outs” designed to avoid harming the civilian population in Yemen, which depends on humanitarian aid and food imports.

According to a report in the Washington Free Beacon, the new designation assigned to the Houthi rebels is much weaker than the designation assigned by the Trump administration.

The Trump administration labeled the group a “Foreign Terrorist Organization,” a classification that sanctioned all support of the Houthis and allowed US banks to seize their funds.

Last Friday, the Washington Free Beacon reported that one of the carve-outs President Biden added to the sanctions would permit the Houthis to continue to engage in fuel-related transactions with the United States.

A Treasury Department-issued license circulated to Congress last week would authorize transactions of “refined petroleum products in Yemen” that would involve the Houthis. The authorization would allow for the “sale of refined petroleum products for personal, commercial, or humanitarian use in Yemen.”

The carve-out has already prompted concern among Republican lawmakers who told the Free Beacon that they are asking the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees to investigate the license, which the lawmakers argue would undermine the purpose of the sanctions.

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