Tag Archives: Blinken

US leader, Biden set to lift Yemen’s Houthi movement blacklist.

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The war pits the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement against Yemen’s internationally recognised government, which has been backed since 2015 by a Saudi-led military coalition.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday said he will revoke terrorist designations of Yemen’s Houthi movement from February 16, even as he warned that members of the group could be hit with more sanctions.

Houthi supporters hold up their weapons during a demonstration against the US decision to designate the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organisation, in Sanaa, Yemen, on January 20, 2021 [File: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

The Trump administration imposed the specially designated global terrorist (SDGT) and foreign terrorist organisation (FTO) designations on its last full day in office despite warnings by other governments, aid groups and the United Nations that the sanctions they carried could push Yemen into a major famine.

US President Joe Biden has quickly moved to reverse US policy, aiming to ease the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and intensify diplomacy to end Yemen’s gruelling civil war.

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“This decision is a recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen,” Blinken said in a statement.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said three of the movement’s leaders will remain subject to US sanctions [File: Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Blinken, however, appeared to signal limits to US tolerance of the Houthi movement. He said three of its leaders – Abdul Malik al-Houthi, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Houthi and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim – will remain subject to US sanctions “related to acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen”.

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He also warned that Washington is monitoring the movement’s activities and identifying new targets to be hit with sanctions, especially those responsible for attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia.

“We will continue to closely monitor the activities of Ansar Allah and its leaders and are actively identifying additional targets for designation,” Blinken said, using a term by which the Houthi movement also is known.

The war pits the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement against Yemen’s internationally recognised government, which has been backed since 2015 by a Saudi-led military coalition.

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The Biden administration, other governments, the United Nations and aid organisations shared fears that the sanctions imposed on the Houthis under the US terrorism designations could strangle food deliveries just as the threat of major famine is rising.

“The United States remains clear-eyed about Ansar Allah’s malign actions,” Blinken said. “Ansar Allah’s actions and intransigence prolong this conflict and exact serious humanitarian costs.”

As part of his policy shift on Yemen, President Joe Biden last week announced an end to US support for offensive operations by the Saudi-led coalition [File: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

As part of his policy shift on Yemen, Biden last week announced an end to US support for offensive operations by the Saudi-led coalition.

He also named veteran US diplomat Timothy Lenderking as a special envoy for Yemen with a US goal of bolstering UN-led diplomatic efforts to negotiate an end to the war.

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Lenderking on Thursday met Yemen’s internationally recognised president and his foreign minister in Riyadh.

The United Nations describes Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 80 percent of its people in need.

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#Newsworthy

US Blinken sees ‘no quick way’ back to Iran’s nuclear deal.

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Iranian officials fear that Biden’s Democratic party, which holds a slim majority in Congress, will struggle to push through measures that lift sanctions on Tehran in exchange for its compliance.

The United States will only return to the Iran nuclear deal once Tehran meets its commitments, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday, warning of a long road ahead until the process is verified.

On his first full day as the top US diplomat, Blinken confirmed President Joe Biden’s willingness to return to the 2015 deal from which his predecessor withdrew, but rejected Iranian pressure for the US to act first.

“Iran is out of compliance on a number of fronts. And it would take some time, should it make the decision to do so, for it to come back into compliance and time for us then to assess whether it was meeting its obligations,” Blinken told a news conference.

“We’re not there yet, to say the least.”

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He declined to say which US official would lead talks with Iran but said “we will bring to bear different perspectives on the issue.”

If Iran returns to the deal, Washington would seek to build what Blinken called a “longer and stronger agreement” that would deal with other “deeply problematic” issues.

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He did not name these but Biden has said they include Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and its support for proxy forces in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

‘Full compliance’
Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated under former President Barack Obama and subsequently slapped punishing sanctions.

The nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed by Iran and six leading countries in 2015 and committed Iran to restricting its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief from the US and others.

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Iran responded to Trump’s sanctions by reducing its compliance with the deal.

“President Biden has been very clear in saying that if Iran comes back into full compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA, the United States would do the same thing,” Blinken said.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has demanded that the US first come into compliance by ending the Trump sanctions, which include a sweeping effort to end Tehran’s key export of oil.

Tehran and Washington have displayed military might in recent months amid heightened tensions between the two foes. The US slapped sanctions on Iran in the final days of the Trump presidency.

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On Tuesday, Israel’s top general warned attack plans against Iran were being revised and said any US return to the 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran would be “wrong”.

But Tehran dismissed the Israeli threat as a “psychological war”.

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#Newsworthy