Sullivan Says Houthis Terrorist Designation is an Overdue ‘Step Forward’ that ‘Doesn’t Go Far Enough’

Senator Presses for More Impactful FTO Designation, Reestablishing Deterrence on Iran

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), released the following statement today after the Biden administration announced it will redesignate the Houthi rebels as a “specially-designated global terrorist group.” The Houthis had been designated both a “specially-designated global terrorist group” and a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” (FTO) by the Trump administration, but both designations were reversed by the Biden administration in February 2021. Sen. Sullivan has advocated strongly for both re-designations for over a year, in addition to a number of other actions aimed at deterring Iran and its terrorist proxies.

“For over a year, I’ve been pressing the Biden administration to reestablish deterrence with regard to Iran and its terrorist proxies strategically across a number of fronts, including re-designating the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO),” said Sen. Sullivan. “The designation of the Houthis today as a ‘specially-designated global terrorist group’ is a step forward, but it doesn’t go far enough—specifically, the FTO designation—and it took far too long. The Biden administration needs to finally abandon its disastrous appeasement strategy of the past few years that has only emboldened the terrorist regime to continue its malign activities in the Middle East. We need to see more tough action against Iran and its terrorist proxies to protect American service members and our allies, and to deter a wider conflict.”

For months, the Houthis have been launching missiles and drones against military and commercial vessels traversing the Red Sea, substantially disrupting trade and shipping.


  • On November 2, 2023, Sen. Sullivan led 12 of his Senate Republican colleagues in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, demanding the Biden administration press for a broader, more permanent framework of sanctions on Iran from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). 
  • On November 14, 2023, Sens. Sullivan and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and a number of their Senate colleagues, introduced a resolution emphasizing the fact that deterrence is most credible when the President keeps all options on the table, including the use of military force, to deter attacks from Iran and its proxies.
  • On December 12, 2023, Sen. Sullivan and a number of his colleagues again sent a letter to Secretary Blinken, urging him to re-designate the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), as well as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT).
  • On January 12, 2024, Sen. Sullivan expressed his support for the strikes on the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which he said were “long overdue.”
  • On January 12, 2024, in an interview with NBC’s Kristen Welker, Sen. Sullivan reiterated his call on the Biden administration to reestablish deterrence with regard to Iran, and argued that tougher action against Iran and its proxies will help avoid a wider war, not appeasement.

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