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Houthi terror designation could set off Yemen’s oil tanker 'time bomb'

Experts say the terrorism label will complicate efforts to secure a decaying oil tanker in the Red Sea that could rupture at any moment and unleash another humanitarian and environmental catastrophe.

Off war-battered Yemen’s western coast lies a rapidly deteriorating storage vessel that could at any moment become an oil spill of catastrophic proportions. Experts say it’s not too late to avert disaster, but an eleventh-hour decision by the outgoing Donald Trump administration to blacklist the militants who control the tanker has raised the stakes.  

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced he would designate the Houthi movement in Yemen as a “foreign terrorist organization” in what was seen as a final push to isolate Iran, the rebels’ regional backer. The label, which makes it illegal to provide material support or resources to the Houthis, drew an immediate backlash from the United Nations, humanitarian organizations and former US national security officials. 

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