US sanctions Iranian university and Tehran’s liaison officer to Yemen’s Houthi rebels

Pompeo: Hasan Irlu's posting complicates efforts to settle Yemeni conflict and signals Iran's intent to increase support to Houthis

epa08870849 Hassan Irloo (C), Iran's newly appointed envoy to the Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, attends a Mawlid celebration at a square in Sana'a, Yemen, 29 October 2020 (Issued 08 December 2020). According to reports, the United States has imposed terrorism-related sanctions on Hassan Irloo, Iran's newly appointed envoy to the Houthi-controlled northern areas of Yemen.  EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

The US Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' liaison to Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and an Iranian university with branches in more than 50 countries.

Tehran sent IRGC Quds Force officer Hasan Irlu, who also provided training to members of Hezbollah in Iran, as its envoy to the Houthi rebels in October.

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Mr Irlu’s appointment “demonstrates the Iranian regime’s indifference to resolving the conflict, which has led to widespread suffering of millions of Yemenis".

The Treasury Department also sanctioned Iran’s Al Mustafa University and Yousef Ali Muraj, a Pakistani citizen who works with the Quds Force on international recruitment.

“Al Mustafa International University is based in Iran and maintains dozens of international branches that enable IRGC-QF operations through the recruitment of international students, including Americans,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“The international community should be wary of Iranian influence, espionage and terror operations facilitated by the regime’s educational infrastructure.”

Mr Pompeo said the Guard recruited international students studying at Al Mustafa International University to join the Zaynabiyoun Brigade and the Fatemiyoun Division.

The two militias are fighting on behalf of President Bashar Al Assad's regime  in Syria.