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US, UK impose joint sanctions on Houthi military officials

The United States and United Kingdom on Thursday announced joint sanctions against four Houthi military officials in Yemen amid an escalating armed conflict with a militant group that has targeted international commercial shipping in the Red Sea with attacks. 

The sanctions target senior military leaders of the Iranian-backed group that has controlled northern Yemen amid a nearly decadelong civil war in the country. 

Blacklisted individuals include the Houthis’ so-called minister of defense; the commander of its maritime forces; its coastal defense forces chief and its director of procurement, with the Treasury Department said is responsible for smuggling Iranian-provided weapons into Yemen.

“The Houthis’ persistent terrorist attacks on merchant vessels and their civilian crews lawfully transiting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden threaten to disrupt international supply chains and the freedom of navigation, which is critical to global security, stability, and prosperity,” said Brian E. Nelson, undersecretary of the Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in a statement.

“Today’s joint action with the United Kingdom demonstrates our collective action to leverage all authorities to stop these attacks.”

The administration earlier this month labeled the Houthis a specially designated terrorist group.

The Biden administration in January 2021 had revoked a Foreign Terrorist Organization label imposed in the last days of the former Trump administration, but it began sanctioning the Houthis in response to attacks by the group on commercial shipping that were launched following the October attacks against Israel by the Iranian-backed Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. 

Since then, the Houthis have fired numerous ballistic missiles and drone attacks against vessels transiting the Red Sea and surrounding waterways. In November, Houthi forces boarded and hijacked the merchant vessel Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea. 

The U.S., in coordination with the U.K., has carried out military strikes on the Houthis in Yemen, saying the strikes aim to degrade the group’s ability to threaten shipping in the Red Sea. 

The Biden administration says that the sanctions being imposed are in direct response to the military threats posed by the Houthis and can be revoked if the attacks stop.

Source: The Hill

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