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Houthi fighters gather in Al-Jawf province, Yemen. Photo: Getty Images

The Biden administration has formally notified Congress of its intention to revoke the terrorist designation for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the State Department confirmed Friday, reversing a last-minute decision by former President Trump.

Why it matters: Humanitarian groups and the United Nations had warned the designation would make it harder for aid to reach the people of Yemen, who are facing one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

What they're saying: Secretary of State Antony Blinken "has been clear about undertaking an expeditious review of the designations of Ansarallah [Houthis] given the profound implications for the people of Yemen, home to the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe," a State Department spokesperson said.

  • "This decision has nothing to do with our view of the Houthis and their reprehensible conduct, including attacks against civilians and the kidnapping of American citizens," the spokesperson added.
  • "We are committed to helping Saudi Arabia defend its territory against further such attacks." 
  • "Our action is due entirely to the humanitarian consequences of this last-minute designation from the prior administration, which the United Nations and humanitarian organizations have since made clear would accelerate the world’s worst humanitarian crisis."

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said on Twitter that Friday's announcement was "another good move."

  • "This designation had no practical effect on the Houthis. All it did was cut off practically all food to much of Yemen - a death sentence for millions," he added.

Go deeper: White House announces end to U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen

Go deeper

Feb 4, 2021 - World

White House announces end to U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen

President Biden on Thursday will announce an end to U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen, where a brutal civil war has resulted in one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at a press briefing.

Why it matters: Pulling support for the war in Yemen was one of Biden's top foreign policy campaign promises. It marks a significant reversal from U.S. policy under former President Trump, who vetoed bipartisan resolutions passed by Congress that called for the U.S. to stop providing weapons to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Feb 4, 2021 - World

President Biden's first foreign policy address: "America is back"

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty

“America cannot afford to be absent any longer from the world stage," President Biden declared on Thursday in his first foreign policy address since taking office.

The big picture: Biden argued that by emphasizing democratic values, recommitting to alliances and investing in diplomacy, the U.S. could rebuild its global leadership and out-compete China.

Scoop: White House convening NSC to talk Iran

President Biden speaks at the State Department on Thursday. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In a sign of the urgency President Biden feels about Iran, the White House is convening a National Security Council principals committee meeting Friday focused on the country's nuclear program, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is still refining its strategy about how to resurrect the 2015 deal that President Trump backed out of in 2018, but it wants to work with allies to slow Iran's effort to enrich uranium and prevent an arms races in the Middle East.