Washington: In the Biden administration’s first punitive action against the organization, the United States imposed sanctions on two military leaders of the Houthi Movement in Yemen on Tuesday, accusing them of buying weapons from Iran and organizing attacks.
The sanctions are in stark contrast to the State Department’s decision last month to withdraw the appointment of the terrorist organization that President Donald Trump’s administration imposed on the organization on the day of the end of his term, for fear that they would exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. .
But President Joe Biden’s administration has signaled limits to U.S. tolerance of the Iran-backed Houthi movement, warning that Washington will keep up pressure on the group’s leadership.
“The United States remains committed to promoting accountability of Houthi leadership for their actions, which have contributed to the extraordinary suffering of the Yemeni people,” Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control Andrea Gacki said in a Treasury Department statement.
Tuesday’s move blacklisted Mansur Al-Sa’adi, the Houthi naval forces chief of staff, and Ahmad ‘Ali Ahsan al-Hamzi, the commander of Yemen’s Houthi-aligned Yemeni air force and air defense forces.
The Treasury accused the two leaders of orchestrating attacks by the Houthis that affected the Yemeni people, neighboring countries and commercial vessels in international waters, in actions done to “advance the Iranian regime’s destabilizing agenda.”
“The United States condemns the destruction of civilian sites by the Houthi militants designated today. These individuals command forces that are worsening the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” Gacki said. The war has sent the impoverished country spiraling into what the United Nations describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
The new sanctions were issued as Biden has withdrawn support for a Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen, declaring that the six-year war, widely seen as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, “has to end.”
The Ministry of Finance stated that Iran has intensified the conflict by providing direct financial and material assistance to the Houthis, including small arms, missiles, explosives, and unmanned aircraft or drones for the internationally recognized Yemeni government.
The Ministry of Finance said that Al-Sa’adi received extensive training in Iran and helped smuggle weapons into Yemen, while Al-Hamzi had purchased Iranian-made weapons for use in the civil war. Including drone strikes.
Tuesday’s sanctions were implemented under an executive order aimed at freezing the property of the people that threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen. This sanction prevents those on the blacklist from potentially owning property within the jurisdiction of the United States, and Americans are generally prohibited from dealing with them.