US issues new sanctions aimed at Iranian financing of Yemen's Houthis

Treasury Department claims entities have sent millions of dollars to the rebel group

The designations against the Houthis include one person and three entities. EPA
Powered by automated translation

The US on Thursday issued new sanctions aimed at Iranian funding of Yemen's Houthi rebels, the latest in Washington's ramped-up focus on stabilising the Red Sea as the Israel-Gaza war threatens to spill over into the wider region.

The designations include one person and three entities: Nabil Ali Ahmed Al Hadha, head of the Currency Exchangers Association in Sanaa, and three exchange houses in Yemen and Turkey.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control claimed those named in the sanctions had aided in the transfer of “millions of dollars to the Houthis”, working at the direction of previously designated Said Al Jamal, who is affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force.

“Today’s action underscores our resolve to restrict the illicit flow of funds to the Houthis, who continue to conduct dangerous attacks on international shipping and risk further destabilising the region,” Brian Nelson, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

The designations come after the Iran-backed Houthis, who are allied to Hamas, attacked several ships in the Red Sea, claiming they were linked to Israel.

The Houthis have said they will continue their attacks on ships believed to be bound for Israel as long as Israel's war in Gaza continues. The enclave's Health Ministry announced on Thursday that the death toll there had risen to more than 21,300.

In response, the US announced last week the formation of a new international mission focused on countering attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Last week, Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi said the group would strike US ships should America launch an attack on Yemen.

“Any US attack on us will be met with a similar attack,” he said in a televised speech on Wednesday.

“We will make American battleships, interests and navigation a target for our missiles, drones and military operations.”

Western diplomats had earlier told The National that the US and its allies were considering responding to the Houthis' actions against Israel-linked ships in the Red Sea, including a strike on Yemen.

And earlier this month, US Special Envoy Tim Lenderking told The National the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea could derail Yemen's peace prospects, after Central Command confirmed that US forces there had shot down a wave of 14 drones launched from Houthi-controlled areas.

Washington's forces and their coalition partners in the Middle East have been subject to near-daily attacks as the Israel-Gaza war threatens to spill over across the region.

A US defence official told The National on Wednesday that there have been “at least 106 attacks on US and Coalition forces” since October 17, including “50 in Iraq and 56 in Syria”.

Updated: December 28, 2023, 4:50 PM