UN Security Council imposes sanctions on three Houthi commanders

Council is expected to hold the rebels responsible for failure to extend a UN-brokered truce

Yemenis visit the graves of a senior Houthi leader and his companions in Sanaa. EPA
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The UN Security Council added three Houthi commanders to its sanctions list days after the breakdown of efforts to extend a six-month Yemeni truce that expired on Sunday.

The amended list, which was released on Thursday, included Ahmed Al Hamzi, commander of the rebels' air force and air defences, as well as its drone programme.

The UN said Mr Al Hamzi was listed for playing “a leading role in Houthi military efforts that directly threaten the peace, security and stability of Yemen”.

The committee also imposed sanctions on Houthi naval chief Mansour Al Saadi and the former deputy head of its National Security Bureau, Mutlaq Al Marani.

“[Mr Al Saadi] has masterminded lethal attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea and plays a leading role in Houthi naval efforts that directly threaten the peace, security and stability of Yemen,” the UN said.

Mr Al Marani was added to the list for his role in the “torture and other ill-treatment” of detainees under his supervision, the UN said.

He was also accused of directing the National Security Bureau to illegally arrest and detain humanitarian workers, as well as planning the diversion of humanitarian aid in breach of international law.

The UN-brokered ceasefire, which was in effect since April, brought a sharp reduction in hostilities and supported efforts to alleviate the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen, aid agencies said.

An image of Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi is projected on a screen in Sanaa as he delivers a speech after a UN-brokered truce expired. EPA

About 80 per cent of the population relies on aid after eight years of war.

Yemen's internationally recognised government wants to renew the ceasefire with Houthi rebels and will not escalate the conflict, its Foreign Minister said on Wednesday.

“We are determined to … address all problems through dialogue,” Ahmed bin Mubarak said during a visit to Morocco.

“We have not made any escalatory moves, despite the Houthis announcing that the Red Sea is a military zone and directly threatening ships.”

In a statement set to be released on Thursday, the Security Council will hold the Houthis responsible for the failure to extend the truce, saying the group's demands in the final days of negotiation have impeded efforts to broker an agreement, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The US special envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, said on Wednesday that the “key elements of the truce continue to hold”, with low levels of violence reported and ships and civilian planes continuing to move.

He said that talks on a truce extension broke down over the Houthis' “maximalist” demand that their own security personnel receive priority in payment of salaries.

“This essentially hijacked the discussion and it created a threshold that was simply too hard for the other side to contemplate, and was entirely unreasonable. And I think some Houthi leaders understand this,” Mr Lenderking said.

Updated: October 06, 2022, 6:29 AM