WASHINGTON: The US on Wednesday sanctioned a sprawling international network run by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a Houthi financier that provided tens of millions of dollars to Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the US Treasury said.
The complex web of individuals and front companies shipped fuel, other petroleum products and commodities throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia, with the proceeds financing Houthi attacks in Yemen and on its neighbours, a Treasury statement said.
The action freezes any assets of the designated entities and individuals that are subject to US jurisdiction and generally bars Americans from doing business with them.
The US closely coordinated the designations with its Gulf partners, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. He urged the Houthis to “end their campaign of violence” and renew peace talks.
The Iran-backed Houthis have been fighting Yemen’s internationally recognised government since 2014. A Saudi-led coalition intervened on the government’s side in 2015, with the war creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The new designations come as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and some American lawmakers press the White House to return the Houthi movement to the US list of foreign terrorist groups in response to recent Houthi drone and missile strikes on the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Eleven Democratic US senators on Wednesday wrote to Blinken urging him not to re-list the movement, saying that doing so would “dramatically deepen the humanitarian crisis” and have little impact on Houthi leaders.
Republican former president Donald Trump’s administration placed the Houthis on the list 10 days before leaving office, triggering financial sanctions.
Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration reversed the move, concerned that the sanctions would dissuade aid groups and commercial importers from bringing in goods like food and fuel. Yemen relies on imports for 90% of its food, fuel and medicine.
The individuals and firms targeted on Wednesday are part of a network overseen by the Quds Force, the elite arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Said al Jamal, a Houthi financier sanctioned last year, the Treasury said.
They included Abdo Abdullah Dael Ahmed, a UAE- and Sweden-based commodities trader, his company, Moaz Abdallah Dael Import and Export, and Konstantinos Stavridis, a Greek businessman based in the UAE, and his firm, Fani Oil Trading FZE, the statement said.
Also designated were money exchange houses in Turkey and Yemen, Aurum Ship Management FZC, based in India, the UAE and Singapore; and its managing director, Chiranjeev Kumar Singh.
The UAE on Wednesday designated Dael and five companies, including his firm, as terrorists.
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