US sanctions senior Houthi military leader

Saleh Mesfer Al Shaer oversees more than $100m in assets that Yemen’s Houthis have confiscated from opponents

The US on Thursday sanctioned senior Houthi military officer Saleh Mesfer Al Shaer, who oversees assets confiscated from opponents fighting the Yemeni rebel group.

The Treasury Department announced that it is blocking all assets and entities under Mr Al Shaer’s control.

It noted that Mr Al Shaer, who commands the Houthi military logistics support organisation, has seized more than $100 million in property from the group’s opponents.

“Saleh Mesfer Al Shaer is the principal Houthi military official responsible for pilfering assets from Yemeni citizens and directing a campaign of seizures that further prolongs the ongoing conflict in Yemen by obstructing its resolution,” said Andrea Gacki, who oversees sanctions at the Treasury Department.

“The United States remains committed to exposing those who exacerbate the crisis in Yemen by denying them access to the global financial system.”

The UN Security Council also levied international sanctions on Mr Al Shaer this month.

The Treasury Department said that Mr Al Shaer oversaw the confiscation of assets last year from 35 Yemeni parliamentarians opposed to the Houthis while withdrawing funds from several hospitals in Sanaa.

The sanctions come after the Houthis stormed the former US embassy compound in Sanaa last week.

They have also detained two Yemeni citizens working for the UN.

US President Joe Biden’s special envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, is travelling to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain this week and is expected to address issues related to the embassy.

Mr Lenderking has spent much of the last year trying to convince the Iran-backed Houthis to sign on to Saudi Arabia’s proposed ceasefire — to no avail.

Instead, the rebels have continued their offensive on Yemen’s oil-rich Marib province while citing the Saudi blockade of Yemeni ports as justification for not accepting the ceasefire proposal.

The Biden administration lifted former president Donald Trump’s last-minute designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organisation this year to resume humanitarian aid to the country, which is facing widespread famine.

However, the Biden administration has maintained sanctions on several Houthi officials — now joined by Mr Al Shaer.

Updated: November 18th 2021, 9:19 PM