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The Houthis have demanded that British and American aid workers, including Yemeni citizens who hold dual citizenship, leave the country within 30 days as action between the Iran-backed group and Western nations continues to escalate

“The ministry would like to emphasize the necessity of informing all officials and workers who hold American and British citizenship of their preparation to leave the country within a maximum period of 30 days from the date of this determination,” a letter from the Yemen Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. 

“The ministry also calls upon [the humanitarian organizations] not to recruit any employees with dual nationalities from those countries mentioned above during this period,” the ministry added. 

The Houthis, which the U.S. recently relisted as a terrorist group – though not a Foreign Terrorist Organization – have controlled the foreign affairs ministry since taking control of Yemen’s capital in 2015 after capturing the presidential palace. The group dissolved parliament and placed its own committee in control of the government. 

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Houthi supporters protest US decision to redesignate terrorist group

Houthi supporters rally to denounce the U.S. labeling of Houthis as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” group, in Sanaa, Yemen, on Friday, Jan. 19. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

The British Embassy said staff had not yet been told to leave, and the mission was in close contact with the U.N. on the issue. 

“The U.N. provides vital assistance to the Yemeni people … via the very sea routes that the Houthis are jeopardizing,” the British mission in Yemen said in a statement. “Nothing should be done that hinders their ability to deliver.”

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Yemeni foreign minister

Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak, pictuerd here, speaks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at a joint press conference in Ankara, Turkiye, on Dec. 22, 2022. (Murat Gok/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The letter, which applies to staff of the United Nations and Sanaa-based humanitarian organizations, follows strikes from U.S. and U.K.-led coalition of allies in retaliation for raids and attacks on commercial shipping vessels in the Red Sea. 

The coalition’s first strike hit over 60 targets in 16 locations, and the latest strike, carried out overnight into Wednesday, prompted the Houthis to seek the expulsion of foreign nationals from the responsible nations, Sky News reported. 

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A plane taking off

A RAF Typhoon aircraft takes off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus for a mission to strike targets in Yemen on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. The U.S. and British militaries bombed more than a dozen sites used by the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen late on Thursday, in a massive retaliatory strike using warship- and submarine-launched Tomahawk missiles and fighter jets, U.S. officials said. (Sgt Lee Goddard, UK Ministry of Defence via AP)

British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps praised the strikes as a “success,” hailing the “dedication, professionalism and skill” of those involved. He claimed that the strikes ended up “degrading the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of innocent mariners.” 

The U.S. said the strikes destroyed two Houthi anti-ship missiles that were preparing to strike at commercial ships in the Southern Red Sea. 

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The Houthis insisted that their raids only target vessels tied to Israeli trade interests to stymie Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip, but Washington and London have instead argued that the attacks have impacted wider global trade. 

The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Jan. 10 demanding the Houthis end their attacks on the shipping lanes after the Houthis ignored a formal statement from the U.S.-led coalition demanding the same. 

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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