The U.S. government has taken decisive action against a group of money exchange services from Yemen and Turkey, accusing them of providing financial support to Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who have been carrying out attacks on commercial shipping vessels in the southern Red Sea. Notably, the U.S. military recently intercepted and destroyed a drone and a missile deployed by the rebels.
As part of the sanctions, the head of a financial intermediary in Sana’a, Yemen, and three exchange houses in Yemen and Turkey have been targeted. According to the U.S. Treasury, these individuals and entities actively facilitated the transfer of millions of dollars to the Houthis under the direction of Sa’id al-Jamal, an Iranian financial facilitator who is already subject to sanctions.
By imposing these sanctions, the U.S. aims to freeze the assets and bank accounts of the designated parties, prohibiting any business dealings with American entities.
This move represents yet another effort by the U.S. to penalize the Houthis for their actions.
Earlier this month, sanctions were announced against 13 individuals and firms alleged to be involved in the sale and shipment of Iranian commodities worth tens of millions of dollars to the Houthis operating in Yemen.
Brian E. Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, emphasized the U.S.’s commitment to curtailing illicit financial flows to the Houthis. Nelson stated that these measures reaffirm their determination to address the ongoing threat posed by the rebels’ dangerous attacks on international shipping, which further risk destabilizing the region.
Going forward, the U.S. and its allies will persist in targeting the key networks enabling the Houthis and their Iranian backers to engage in destabilizing activities.
Houthis’ Attacks on Commercial Vessels Alarm Shipping Industry
In recent years, the Houthis have sporadically targeted ships in the Red Sea region. However, these attacks have significantly escalated since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. The situation worsened after a devastating explosion at a Gaza hospital on October 17th, which resulted in numerous casualties. Houthi leaders claim that Israel is their main target.
The US military’s Central Command recently reported yet another attempt by the Houthis to attack commercial vessels. According to their statement, the USS Mason, a Navy destroyer, successfully intercepted one drone and one ballistic missile fired by the Houthis at around 6 p.m. local time. Fortunately, there were no injuries or damage to any of the 18 ships present in the area. Shockingly, this was the 22nd attempted attack by the Houthis on international shipping since October 19th.
In an effort to counter these threats, the White House has encouraged its allies to join the Combined Maritime Forces—a 39-member partnership dedicated to combating illicit activities by non-state actors in international waters. By doing so, the US aims to push back against the Houthis’ aggressive actions.
Unfortunately, these attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea have resulted in major repercussions for the shipping industry and oil giants. Many top shipping companies are now apprehensive about navigating this high-risk area and have decided to reroute their vessels. As a result, global trade is being redirected away from this vital maritime passage, leading to potential delays and rising prices for consumer goods and energy supplies.