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U.S. sanctions Houthi leaders accused of worsening humanitarian crisis

U.S. sanctions Houthi leaders accused of worsening humanitarian crisis
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced sanctions Thursday against Houthi rebels over their destabilizing actions in Yemen. Pool photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

May 21 (UPI) -- The Biden administration has imposed sanctions against two senior Houthi rebel leaders, accusing them of pursuing actions in Yemen to prolong the Middle Eastern country's civil war and deepen its humanitarian crisis.

Of the two sanctioned on Thursday, the Treasury said in a statement that Muhammad Abd Al-Karim al-Ghamari was being targeted through an executive order aimed at blocking the property of those who threaten peace, security and stability in Yemen.

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The federal agency accused al-Ghamari of orchestrating attacks in Marib governorate that threaten to worsen what the United Nation's has already described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

"As the senior Houthi military official, Muhammad Abd Al-Karim al-Ghamari is directly responsible for attacks on infrastructure that have harmed civilians and now oversees an offensive in Marib that compounds human suffering," said Andrea M. Gacki, director of the Office of Foreign Assets at the Treasury. "The United States will continue to hold Houthi leadership accountable for actions that contribute to Yemen's humanitarian crisis."

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The sanctions were imposed a week and a half after U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths reported to the Security Council of "relentless military escalation" by the Houthi rebels in Marib governorate, an assault he said was "unjustifiable" as there are diplomatic missions seeking a cease-fire between the Iran-backed rebels and the internationally recognized government of Yemen with a pathway to peace.

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The offensive has been ongoing for more than a year, resulting in "an astonishing loss of life" while further threatening the displacement of those who sought refuge in the region, he said.

The Treasury explained Marib has been a beacon of stability for millions of Yemenis amid the civil war, and this offensive led by al-Ghamari puts that at risk, threatens to overwhelm humanitarian assistance and spark an escalation of fighting.

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Al-Ghamari is also responsible as head of the general staff of the Houthi armed forces for overseeing military operations, it said, adding he has also conducted attacks against Saudi Arabia and other neighboring states.

The second Houthi rebel leader, Yusuf al-Madani, was blacklisted Thursday by the State Department due to "the significant risk he poses of committing acts of terrorism" that threaten the security of the United States and its foreign policy, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Blinken said he is "a prominent leader" of the Houthi forces and is responsible for overseeing the areas of Al Hudaydah, Hajjah, Al Mahwit and Raymah.

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By sanctioning these two members, the United States was taking actions to hold Houthi rebels responsible for their destabilizing efforts that perpetuate conflict in Yemen and undermine peace efforts, he said.

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"We call on the Houthis to immediately cease all attacks and military offensives, especially their offensive against Marib, which only causes more suffering for the Yemeni people," he said. "It is time to end this conflict."

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