The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday sanctioned members of a smuggling network that U.S. officials claim is helping to fund the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iranian-affiliated Houthi fighters in Yemen.
Finance officials said the network, allegedly headed by Iran-based Houthi financier Sa’id al-Jamal, is channeling funds from the sale of Iranian oil through a complex network of intermediaries and exchange offices in several countries to the Houthis in Yemen.
“The financial support of this network enables the Houthis deplorable attacks threatening civil and critical infrastructure in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, “Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement.
“These attacks undermine efforts to end the conflict and most tragically starve tens of millions of innocent civilians,” Gacki said.
The war that started in 2014 when Houthi fighters drove the Saudi Arabia-backed government from the capital, Sanaa, turned Yemen into the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis. According to the United Nations, more than 20 million people are in need of help and four million have been displaced from their homes. Tens of thousands of people have died.
US President Joe Biden has demanded an end on the proxy war in Yemen between Saudi Arabia and Iran and directed US officials to seek diplomatic solutions to the conflict.
“The United States is working to resolve the conflict in Yemen and to provide ongoing humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement on Friday.
“It is time for the Houthis to accept a ceasefire and for all parties to resume political talks,” said Blinken.
In February, the US announced that it would cease “all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales,” although Biden said he would continue to “help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty”.
Last week, a Attack with Houthi missiles killed 17, including a five-year-old girl, in the besieged Yemeni city of Marib.
Fighters loyal to the Saudi Arabia-backed government of Yemen stand in the northeastern province of Marib. of the country against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels [Photo by STR/AFP]The new US sanctions are intended to deny al-Jamal and key business partners in Turkey, Greece and the United Arab Emirates access to the global financial system, the US Treasury Department announced on its website.
At the same time, the Biden government officials lifted sanctions against three Iranian government officials and two companies previously involved in the trade in Iranian oil products.
Oil prices fell briefly on the news Thursday, but a US official told Reuters that lifting the sanctions was “routine,” and a State Department spokesman said the move was unrelated to multilateral talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal from 2015 to do.
A sixth round of negotiations between Iran and the world powers over the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal is on resume next weekend, just a few days before the presidential elections in Iran, which are expected to take place on June 18 new leadership to power in Tehran.
On Tuesday, Blinken said that even if Iran returns to compliance with the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), “hundreds of sanctions will remain in place”.
West Texas Intermediate crude rose to more than $ 70 a barrel on Thursday, its highest level in more than two years, amid optimism about strong economic demand in the US, Reuters reported.
Among those identified as the target of the newly announced U.S. sanctions on Thursday was Abdi Nasir Ali Mahamud, a Turkey-based Houthi supporter who allegedly coordinated petrochemical smuggling for Aldoon General Trading’s network and related businesses.
Manoj Sabharwal, a maritime manager in the UAE, Hani Abd-al-Majid Muhammad As’ad, an accountant in Turkey, and Jami Ali Muhammad, a Somali businessman, were also named for sanctions.
Two Syrian men, Tlaib Ali Husayn Al-Ahmad al-Rawi, based in Turkey and Abdul Jalil Mallah, based in Greece, are said to have enabled the transfers to an exchange office in Yemen that is close to the Houthis.