The US on Thursday December 7th imposed sanctions on 13 individuals and entities, stating that they had funnelled tens of millions of dollars in foreign currency to Yemen’s Houthi group from the sale and shipment of Iranian commodities.
The US Treasury stated that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was behind a scheme that involved a complex web of exchange houses and firms in multiple countries, including Yemen, Turkey, and St Kitts and Nevis.
US Treasury Undersecretary Brian Nelson said funds provided by Iran had enabled recent attacks by the Houthis on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, and that these had endangered international trade. “The Houthis continue to receive funding and support from Iran, and the result is unsurprising: unprovoked attacks on civilian infrastructure and commercial shipping, disrupting maritime security and threatening international commercial trade,” Nelson said.
The Houthis have admitted the attacks, stating that they have been against Israel and Israeli ships in the Red Sea. Iran has denied any involvement in the Houthi attacks.
US warships have brought down missiles and drones fired by the Houthis, although the Pentagon has said that it is not clear that American vessels have been targeted. US warships have also intercepted attacks on commercial ships that the US military says were linked to multiple nations.
The sanctions freeze all properties and interests in the US of those targeted. The Treasury said that the targeted network involved Said al-Jamal, a key “Iran-based Houthi financial facilitator,” and Bilal Hudroj, who runs a Lebanon-based exchange house, both of whom already are under US sanctions.
Jamal has for years used a web of exchange houses in Yemen and abroad to funnel the proceeds of Iranian commodity sales to the Houthis and the IRGC, the Treasury said, noting that Hudroj has assisted in the remittances to the Houthis.
The 13 entities and individuals hit in the latest sanctions include a jewellers and exchange house in Turkiye, the Treasury said, as well as exchange houses, shipping agents and individuals in St Kitts and Nevis, the UK and Russia.
The US believes that Iran is involved in the planning and execution of drone and missile attacks by Yemen’s Houthi group on Israel and ships in the Red Sea, White House national security adviser Jon Finer said on Thursday.
Finer spoke hours after the US imposed the new sanctions.
The Houthis “would not have the weaponry, would not have the intelligence, would not have the motivation to do this, were it not for the role of the IRGC,” Finer told an Aspen Security Forum conference in Washington. “They’re involved in the conduct of these attacks, the planning of them, the execution of them, the authorization of them, and ultimately, they support them”.
Finer said that destroyer USS Carney brought down dozens of missiles and drones headed towards Israel early in the Gaza conflict, calling it a “remarkable act of defence of Israeli territory.”
Source: Insurance Marine News 11th December 2023