Even prior to the 2014 outbreak of hostilities, Yemen was the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula. Today, the United Nations says that Yemen is "the world's worst humanitarian crisis." Sadly, this is a man-made disaster, caused by a war between Yemen’s Houthi rebels on one side, and on the other, the internationally recognized government of Yemen and the Saudi-led Coalition.
The crisis was sparked by the Houthis’ attempt to topple the internationally recognized government of Yemen and has resulted in the proliferation of conflict and instability. Almost seven years of war have led to an economic collapse and erosion of basic services. About two thirds of the country’s 31 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 5 million are facing a high risk of starvation.
Yet despite the suffering, and repeated international calls for a ceasefire, the Houthi rebels refuse to stop fighting. One reason for this intransigence is the fact that Iran supports their war effort.
Iran-based, Houthi financier Sa’id al-Jamal operates a network of front companies, intermediaries, and vessels that smuggle Iranian fuel and other commodities to customers willing to evade U.S. sanctions. The operation brings in tens of millions of dollars, and a significant amount of these proceeds goes to the Houthis, thus financing the war and prolonging misery in Yemen. Some of the money also helps fund the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force’s destabilizing activities in Yemen and elsewhere in the region.
Helping to stop the flow of money to the Houthis, the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Sa’id Ahmad Muhammad al-Jamal on June 10, along with 11 other individuals and companies and a vessel, related to this illicit network. This means that all property under U.S. jurisdiction belonging to the designated persons is blocked, and U.S. persons may not engage in transactions with them.
“The United States is working to help resolve the conflict in Yemen and bring lasting humanitarian relief to the Yemeni people,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a written statement.
“It is time for the Houthis to accept a ceasefire and for all parties to resume political talks. Only a comprehensive, nationwide ceasefire can bring the urgent relief Yemenis need, and only a peace agreement can resolve the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The United States will continue to apply pressure to the Houthis, including through targeted sanctions, to advance those goals.”