Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Australia adds Houthis to terrorist list


Thu, 23-05-2024 08:21 PM, Aden

Jason Law (South24)

The Australian government has today officially designated the Yemeni Houthis, who refer to themselves as ‘Ansar Allah’, as a terrorist organization.

A media release, published on the Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus’s website, revealed that the Houthis have been listed as a terrorist organization under the country’s 1995 ‘Criminal Code Act’, as a result of the insurgent militia’s actions in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Peninsula, and surrounding waters over the past several months.   

The release attributed the designation to Houthi attacks that have “killed civilians, taken hostages, and severely disrupted navigational rights and freedoms”, following advice from Australia’s intelligence agencies that they are “engaged in the preparing, planning, assisting in, or fostering of terrorist attacks.”

On October 19, 2023, the Iran-backed Houthis began a military campaign involving the launching of missiles and weaponized drones at Israel, which they claimed was in response to the Jewish state’s war on Gaza. 

In November of last year, the Houthis began attacking any maritime navigation in the Red Sea they deemed to be Israeli, before escalating their attacks in the following months to include ships linked to Israel’s allies and expanding them to the Bab Al-Mandab Strait, Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.

An official terrorist designation under Australia’s Criminal Code facilitates the prosecution of activities linked to terrorism as well as any person who assists a designated terrorist group. 

Today’s designation means that any individual who is a member of, associates with members of, participates in, trains with, or provides support to the Houthis, could face up to 25 years in prison according to Australian law. 

The Houthis will join 29 other terrorist organizations on Australia’s terrorism list, including groups such as Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al-Qa’ida (AQ), Boko Haram, Hamas, the Islamic State and its splinter organizations, and Hezbollah. 

The move may come as no surprise to those familiar with the ongoing situation in the Middle East and Australia’s close relationship with the US and UK. 

On January 4 of this year, Australia joined 12 other nations in condemning the Houthi attacks as “illegal” and calling for them to immediately cease their attacks. 

Shortly after the US and UK began their still ongoing bombing campaign against the Houthis on January 11 of this year, members of the opposition party in Australia’s government were calling for the listing of the Houthis as a terrorist organization. Notably, this was before the White House had even added the Houthis to their Specially Designated Global Terrorists list, on January 17. 

At the time, Australian Defence Force personnel were stationed at the command headquarters where US and UK strikes were being coordinated, and Australia publicly backed the strikes along with the Netherlands, Canada, and Bahrain. 

However, Australia had previously refused to contribute any ships to support the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian, a coalition of 20 countries, many of which sent naval vessels to the Red Sea to protect commercial navigation. 

The US, UK, and Australia have long shared close defensive ties, particularly since the 2021 formation of AUKUS, the trilateral defense and security partnership between Australia, the UK, and the US. 

The UK and US-led military campaign in Yemen began as a response to the Houthis’ ongoing escalation of attacks against commercial and military vessels in the Red Sea and surrounding region. 

The leader of the Houthis, Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, earlier this month claimed that his militant group has so far launched 606 ballistic missiles and drones against 107 Israeli, US, and UK ships in Yemen’s territorial and surrounding waters. 

Jason Law 

English Editor at South24 Center for News and Studies

YemenAustraliaHouthisDesignationTerrorist list