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US rolls out new sanctions on Houthis

The sanctions come after the Yemen-based group fired missiles at container ships in the Gulf of Aden over the weekend.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The U.S. rolled out new sanctions Monday targeting multiple people, companies and vessels that help finance the Houthis in Yemen.

The departments of State and Treasury announced the sanctions the day after the Houthis fired on three container ships in the Gulf of Aden at the entrance to the Red Sea.

The Houthis have been targeting shipping in the crucial route through the Red Sea, which borders Yemen, since Oct. 19. The attacks are widely seen as one of the spillovers from Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip. The Houthis are a Shia Islamist movement that support the establishment of a Palestinian state and have condemned Israel’s policies toward the occupied territories.

The U.S. and United Kingdom have targeted Houthi facilities in Yemen with airstrikes to limit their ability to hit commercial vessels.

The U.S. Central Command said Sunday that the Houthis launched four missiles at ships on Sunday. The first struck a Liberian-flagged ship, which was damaged but suffered no casualties and continued on its way. The second was destroyed by U.S. and allied countries patrolling the area. The final two struck an Antigua and Barbados flagged ship that was damaged but reported no casualties and continued through the gulf.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces reported that they destroyed one unmanned aerial system over the Gulf of Aden and two missiles and one missile launcher in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

The Houthis emerged in the 1990s in opposition to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and were led by Hussein al-Houthi, who was killed by the military in 2004. The movement led to a revolution in 2011, which took control of part of the country. By 2014, the conflict reached a full scale civil war that continues today with the Houthis controlling large parts of the country.

Monday’s sanctions target maritime shipping companies, vessel managers and their owners and financial facilitators that support Sa’id al-Jamal, who officials said uses a network of foreign shipping firms to support his ability to finance the Houthis.

“Houthi financial facilitator Sa’id al-Jamal continues to leverage an expansive support network to facilitate the illicit sale of commodities, including hiding the origin of cargo, forging shipping documents, and providing services to sanctioned vessels,” Department of State spokesperson Matt Miller said. “The United States will continue to impose costs on those who seek to facilitate these illicit activities.”

The sanctions designate Shark International Shipping LLC, Rayyan Shipping Private Limited, Lainey Shipping Limited, Louis Marine Shipholding Enterprises, Shark International’s owner John Britto Aruldhas, captains Vivek Ashok Pandey and Sandeep Singh Choudhary and al-Jamal’s Yemen-based nephew Abdallah Najib Ahmad al-Jamal. 

“The Houthis continue to leverage an expansive support network to facilitate their illicit activities, including hiding the origin of cargo, forging shipping documents, and providing services to sanctioned vessels,” said Brian Nelson, under secretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. “As we demonstrated with our military strikes last week, the United States government is committed to disrupting and degrading the Houthis’ ability to engage in attacks against commercial shipping and naval vessels, as well as target those who seek to facilitate these activities.”

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Categories / Government, International, Politics

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