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US Imposes Sanctions Over Red Sea Shipping Attacks

The United States imposed sanctions on Thursday on 13 individuals and entities for allegedly funneling tens of millions of dollars in foreign currency to Yemen’s Houthi group from the sale and shipment of Iranian commodities.

The U.S. Treasury said in a statement that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s paramilitary and espionage force, backed the scheme involving a complex web of exchange houses and firms in multiple countries, including Yemen, Turkey, and St. Kitts and Nevis.

Treasury Undersecretary Brian Nelson said funds provided by Iran have enabled recent attacks by the Houthis on commercial shipping in the Red Sea that endanger international trade.

“The Houthis continue to receive funding and support from Iran, and the result is unsurprising: unprovoked attacks on civilian infrastructure and commercial shipping, disrupting maritime security and threatening international commercial trade,” the Treasury statement quoted Nelson as saying.’

The Houthis say they have been staging drone and missile attacks against Israel and Israeli ships in the Red Sea in response to the offensive Israel launched against Hamas in Gaza after the Oct.7 rampage into Israel by Hamas militants.

Iran denies any involvement in the attacks.

Washington has said that U.S. warships have downed missiles and drones fired by the Houthis although the Pentagon says it has not been clear that the American vessels were actually targeted. U.S. warships have also intercepted attacks on commercial ships that the U.S. military says were linked to multiple nations.

The sanctions freeze all properties and interests in the United States of those targeted and generally prohibit Americans from conducting transactions with them.

The Treasury said that the targeted network involved Said al-Jamal, a key “Iran-based Houthi financial facilitator,” and Bilal Hudroj, who runs a Lebanon-based exchange house, both of whom already are under U.S. sanctions.

Jamal has for years used a web of exchange houses in Yemen and abroad to funnel the proceeds of Iranian commodity sales to the Houthis and the IRGC, the Treasury said, adding that Hudroj has assisted in the remittances to the Houthis.

The 13 entities and individuals hit in the latest sanctions include a jewelry shop and exchange house in Turkey, the Treasury said, as well as exchange houses, shipping agents and individuals in St. Kitts and Nevis, Britain and Russia. 

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