The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday sanctioned members of a smuggling ring that U.S. officials say helps fund Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran-aligned Houthi fighters in Yemen.
Treasury officials said the network, allegedly run by Iran-based Houthi financier Sa’id al-Jamal, directs funds from selling Iranian oil through a complex network of middlemen and money changers in several countries. to the Houthis in Yemen.
“Financial support from this network enables deplorable Houthi attacks threatening civilian and critical infrastructure in Yemen and Saudi Arabia,” Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement.
“These attacks undermine efforts to end the conflict and, more tragically, starve tens of millions of innocent civilians,” Gacki said.
The war, which began in 2014 when Houthi fighters ousted the Saudi-backed government from the capital Sana’a, has made Yemen the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. More than 20 million people need help and four million have been uprooted from their homes, according to the United Nations. Tens of thousands of people have died.
US President Joe Biden has called for an end to the proxy war in Yemen between Saudi Arabia and Iran and called on US officials to seek diplomatic resolutions to the conflict.
“The United States is working to help resolve the conflict in Yemen and provide lasting humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Friday.
“It is time for the Houthis to agree to a ceasefire and for all parties to resume political talks,” Blinken said.
In February, the United States announced that it would end “all U.S. support for offensive operations in the Yemen war, including sales of relevant weapons,” although Biden said he would continue to “assist Saudi Arabia to defend its sovereignty ”.
Last week, a Houthi missile attack killed 17 people, including a five-year-old girl, in the besieged Yemeni town of Marib.
The new US sanctions are aimed at denying access to the global financial system to al-Jamal and its major trading partners in Turkey, Greece and the United Arab Emirates, the US Treasury said on its website.
At the same time, officials in the Biden administration lifted sanctions against three Iranian government officials and two companies previously involved in trading Iranian petroleum products.
Oil prices fell briefly on Thursday, but a US official told Reuters news agency the lifting of sanctions was “routine” and a State Department spokesman said the move was not unrelated to multilateral talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
A sixth round of negotiations between Iran and world powers on how to relaunch the 2015 nuclear deal is set to resume over the next weekend, just days before Iran’s June 18 presidential election which is expected to carry more weight. new leaders in power in Tehran.
On Tuesday, Blinken said that even if Iran reverts to sticking to the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), “hundreds of sanctions will remain in place.”
West Texas Intermediate crude hit more than $ 70 a barrel on Thursday, the highest level in more than two years, amid optimism about strong economic demand in the United States, Reuters reported.
Among those identified as targets of the newly announced U.S. sanctions on Thursday was Abdi Nasir Ali Mahamud, a Turkey-based Houthi supporter who allegedly coordinated the smuggling of petrochemicals for the network and related Aldoon General Trading companies.
Manoj Sabharwal, a shipping official in the United Arab Emirates, Hani Abd-al-Majid Muhammad As’ad, an accountant in Turkey, Jami Ali Muhammad, a Somali businessman, have also been named for sanctions.
Two Syrian men, Turkey-based Tlaib Ali Husayn Al-Ahmad al-Rawi and Greece-based Abdul Jalil Mallah, allegedly facilitated transfers to a Houthi-affiliated foreign exchange house in Yemen.