Pence-Founded Group Leads Call for Blinken to Re-Designate Houthis a Terrorist Organization

January 2nd, 2024

Advancing American Freedom (AAF) led a group of more than 40 prominent conservatives in calling on United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken to re-designate the Iran-backed Houthi militia as a terrorist organization. AAF was founded by former vice president Mike Pence and promotes what it describes as a “freedom agenda.”

The Trump administration designated the Houthis, which control the bulk of Northern Yemen, a terrorist organization in January 2021, but the Biden administration reversed that decision shortly after taking office. Since Hamas’s October 7 attack against Israel, the Houthis have launched missiles and drones in Israel’s direction and have targeted both American military vessels and commercial ships in the Red Sea.

AAF executive director Paul Teller said the erasure of the Houthis’ terrorist designation was a grave error.

“Removing the Houthis from the list of terrorist organizations was one of the first mistakes of this administration,” Teller said. “As the Middle East grows more unstable after Hamas’s unprovoked attack in Israel, the Houthis have added to the chaos, and there is no diplomacy that will dissuade them. The United States must return to a posture of clear-headed realism and treat our enemies as they deserve to be treated.”

Over one hundred container ships have been rerouted around the Horn of Africa to avoid Houthi attacks, adding seven to 14 days of extra travel in exchange for steering clear of potential aggression in the Red Sea. On Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the formation of a multinational coalition to protect shipping lanes in the region from Houthi violence, an initiative that has been named Operation Prosperity Guardian.

“Operation Prosperity Guardian is bringing together multiple countries to include the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, and Spain to jointly address security challenges in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, with the goal of ensuring freedom of navigation for all countries and bolstering regional security and prosperity,” Austin said, though it is unclear when the initiative will be launched.

Among the signatories to the letter are Republican Jewish Coalition CEO Matthew Brooks, former secretary of veterans Affairs and under secretary of defense Robert Wilkie, Hudson Institute scholar Kenneth Weinstein, and Center for Military Readiness president Elaine Donnelly.

“It is far past time to acknowledge that the strategy of delisting the Houthis as terrorists has failed to achieve the Pollyannish policy goals you hoped it would,” the letter reads. “Like Hamas, the Houthis are a death cult. No amount of earnest intentions will stop their campaign of terror.”

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