Yemen's Houthi movement may be designated a foreign terrorist organization by the United States, according to three sources familiar with the matter, a move that diplomats and aid groups worry could threaten peace and exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that he plans to designate Yemen's Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization.
The Houthis are the de facto authority in northern Yemen and aid agencies have to work with them to deliver assistance.
But diplomats and aid groups say the Trump administration's decision to blacklist the Iran-backed group could block the flow of aid to combat the world's largest humanitarian crisis, a famine that top U.N officials say affects millions of people.
It could also threaten regional peace talks the U.N has been trying to revive, to end the war between a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015, fighting alongside government forces against the Houthis.
The Trump administration has been piling on sanctions related to Iran in recent weeks, which some analysts say is a push to make it harder for the incoming Biden administration to re-engage with Iran and rejoin an international nuclear agreement.
A former U.S. ambassador to the Middle East, Ryan Crocker warned that the Houthis are an integral part of Yememi society and criticised the plan: "This [move] serves no interest at all… this is making a strategic enemy out of a local force that has been part of Yemen for generations.