The United States has imposed sanctions on two commanders of Yemen’s Houthi rebels, blaming them for civilian deaths and denouncing their ties with Iran as Washington seeks to halt the devastating war.
The Treasury Department said it would freeze any assets of the air force and naval commanders of the Houthis, who have defied international appeals by pursuing an offensive to seize the government’s last northern stronghold.
With the rebels from the impoverished nation unlikely to have US bank accounts, the effects are largely symbolic but reinforce President Joe Biden’s sharp criticism of Iran even as he opens the door to diplomacy and distances his administration from Saudi Arabia, which has been waging a devastating campaign to dislodge the Houthis.
“These individuals command forces that are worsening the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” said Andrea Gacki, the director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
“The United States remains committed to promoting accountability of Houthi leadership for their actions, which have contributed to the extraordinary suffering of the Yemeni people,” she said in a statement.
The Treasury Department said that both commanders had trained in Iran and acquired weapons from the clerical state, which has religious affinities with the Houthis and a shared hostility toward Saudi Arabia.
The Houthi naval commander, Mansur al-Saadi, masterminded deadly attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea and put fishermen and other civilians at risk with naval mines, the Treasury Department said.
The air force commander, Ahmad Ali Ahsan al-Hamzi, has carried out targeted drone strikes, it said
The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on seven senior Russians as it said its intelligence concluded that Moscow was behind the poisoning of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
In action coordinated with the EU, the United States renewed demands that Russia free Navalny, who was arrested in January upon his return to Moscow as he spurred massive rallies through his allegations of corruption by President Vladimir Putin.
“The intelligence community assesses with high confidence that officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service FSB used a nerve agent known as Novichok to poison Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on August 20, 2020,” a senior US official said.
Officials said that the United States would impose sanctions on “seven senior members of the Russian government” with the details expected to be released later Tuesday.
European Council chief says EU has no plans to lift punishing sanctions against Moscow
They also said that the United States would restrict exports to Russia as it vowed that President Joe Biden would take a harder line than his predecessor Donald Trump, who voiced admiration for Putin.
“We’re sending a clear signal to Russia that there are clear consequences to the use of chemical weapons,” another official said.
Navalny, 44, fell violently ill when he was on a domestic flight.
He was rushed to treatment in Germany where doctors said he had been poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent developed by Soviet researchers and which was also blamed in a 2018 attack in England against Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter and Yulia.