The Biden administration on Tuesday sanctioned two senior leaders of Yemen’s Houthi rebel army, saying the Iran-backed force has contributed to the displacing of millions of civilians and creating one of the world’s most severe humanitarian crises.
The sanctions, announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, were imposed even though the new administration last month reversed President Trump’s end-of-term declaration that the Houthis, an ethnic movement based in Yemen’s north, were a terrorist group. Humanitarian groups had warned that the terror tag could put in jeopardy an international relief effort to help the country’s struggling population.
The Houthis have been locked in a civil war with Yemen’s internationally recognized government and a Saudi Arabian-led campaign to oust them from the capital of Sana and other strongholds. Houthi forces in recent weeks have made substantial gains in a campaign to capture the strategic city of Marib, consolidating their control of the country’s northern half.
Mr. Blinken said the U.S. “strongly condemns” the Marib offensive and recent drone and missile attacks across the border at Saudi targets. He also accused Iran of fanning the flames of the war by giving the Houthis weapons, intelligence and logistical support.
Facing new Treasury Department sanctions are Houthi naval commander Mansur Al-Sa’adi and air force commander Ahmad Ali Ahsan al-Hamzi.
“These senior [Houthi] leaders have used their positions … to procure weapons from Iran and to oversee attacks threatening civilians and maritime infrastructure,” Mr. Blinken said in a statement.
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