US and UK impose sanctions on four Houthi leaders after Red Sea attacks

25 January 2024, 17:44

Yemen Israel Palestinians US
Yemen Israel Palestinians US. Picture: PA

Mohamed al-Atifi, Muhammad Fadl Abd al-Nabi, Muhammad Ali al-Qadiri and Muhammad Ahmad al-Talibi have been sanctioned.

The US and UK have imposed sanctions on four leaders of Yemen’s Houthi rebel group who have supported recent attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Houthi leaders Mohamed al-Atifi, Muhammad Fadl Abd al-Nabi, Muhammad Ali al-Qadiri and Muhammad Ahmad al-Talibi are all accused of assisting or sponsoring acts of terrorism, according to the US Treasury.

The Houthis have repeatedly launched attacks on ships in the Red Sea since November over Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, though they have frequently targeted vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, endangering shipping on a key route for global trade.

The sanctions block access to US property and bank accounts and prevent the targeted people and companies from doing business with Americans.

Members of a former rebel group originally from the remote mountains of north-west Yemen, Houthi leaders are generally seen as having few assets within reach of US authorities to be affected by the sanctions.

But Middle East analysts say the sanctions may have impact simply by reminding movement leaders that the US knows who they are, and may be tracking them.

Abdel Malek al-Houthi, a Yemeni politician who serves as the leader of the Houthi movement, said on Thursday in a speech: “Since the beginning of the offence, with air raids on our country, and missiles strikes from the sea, the Americans were not able to stop our strikes in the sea and our targeting of ships. But they got themselves, as well as the British, in this problem (conflict).”

State Department official Matthew Miller said in a statement that the US “is continuing to take action to hold the Houthis accountable for their illegal and reckless attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden”.

“The Houthis’ terrorist attacks on merchant vessels and their civilian crews in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden have disrupted international supply chains and infringed on navigational rights and freedoms,” Mr Miller said.

As recently as Wednesday, two American-flagged ships carrying cargo for the US Defence and State departments came under attack by Houthi rebels, with the US Navy intercepting some of the incoming fire.

The US and the UK have launched multiple rounds of air strikes seeking to stop the attacks.

Treasury under secretary Brian E Nelson said Thursday’s joint action with the UK “demonstrates our collective action to leverage all authorities to stop these attacks”.

By Press Association

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