The Biden administration knows the facts aren’t on their side. That’s why they kick and scream when thrown a hardball question.
And a White House press conference broke into chaos over this critical question.
When asked about President Biden’s decision to delist the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen as a terrorist group, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby dodged a reporter’s question on Thursday.
During the daily White House press briefing, Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich asked Kirby if Biden has any “regret” about delisting the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization, and if the government is reviewing the decision. Kirby said no.
“I’ve already said that we are going to review that decision. We are,” Kirby replied, although he gave no time frame for the review.
“I don’t have a date certain for you or any outcome to brief, Jacqui, but we said we’re already gonna take a look and review that decision,” he went on to say.
Several Republican members of Congress have encouraged the Biden administration to categorize the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).
The designation was applied to the group by the Trump administration as one of its final acts, but Biden overturned that decision as one of his first acts upon taking office.
At the time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that the administration reversed the designation because of worries that it would have “a devastating impact on Yemenis’ access to basic commodities like food and fuel.”
However, since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on October 7, the Houthis have been one of several Iran-backed proxy militias harassing Israeli and U.S. forces stationed in the Middle East.
Earlier this month, a group of Republican lawmakers led by Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., filed legislation requiring the administration to reclassify the Houthis as a terrorist organization.
The Standing Against Houthi Aggression Act would authorize the U.S. to impose a number of sanctions and actions against the group, including the interruption of financial support networks.
The classification makes it illegal for anybody in the United States or subject to U.S. jurisdiction to knowingly provide material assistance or resources to an FTO, and members of an FTO are inadmissible and, in some cases, liable to expulsion from the United States.
The legislation was enacted in response to attacks on U.S. personnel.
The most recent incident occurred on Sunday, when three commercial vessels were attacked in international waters. The Houthis claimed responsibility for the incident, claiming to have launched multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at two Israeli ships. Israel denies any connection to the ships.
The Carney, a U.S. Navy destroyer, shot down three drones while responding to distress calls from the vessels, which the U.S. military said were affiliated to 14 different nations.
“These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security. They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world,” U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said.
“We also have every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran.”
Since the middle of last month, U.S. forces in the Middle East have been attacked at least 75 times. This figure does not include attacks on U.S. vessels at sea, according to the Pentagon.
Stay tuned to the DC Daily Journal.