The war in Yemen drags on. Since the Houthi rebels launched their offensive against the Government of Yemen in 2014, the conflict has claimed more than 233,000 lives, and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters -- with nearly 80 percent of Yemen’s 30 million people relying on aid to survive.
The U.S. government recently imposed sanctions on a Houthi official and military commander, Saleh Mesfer Alshaer, who heads the Houthi-controlled military logistics support organization. According to the Department of the Treasury, Alshaer, who is a close ally of Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi, “has overseen the Houthis’ seizure of property in Yemen valued at greater than 100 million dollars, using a variety of unlawful tactics, including extortion.” The assets, confiscated from opponents of the Houthis, have been used to fund the Houthi’s military effort, “fueling instability and increasing the already extraordinary suffering of the Yemeni people,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.
If Yemeni citizens refuse to comply with Alshaer’s efforts to confiscate their property, he uses extortion and detention to compel them. “Those who have defied Alshaer have been detained and held indefinitely by the Houthi-controlled ‘National Security Bureau’ and have been falsely labeled as spies,” the Treasury Department declared.
“Saleh Mesfer Alshaer is the principal Houthi military officer responsible for pilfering assets from Yemeni citizens and directing a campaign of seizures that further prolongs the ongoing conflict,” wrote Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the OFAC, Andrea M. Gacki. “The United States remains committed to exposing those who seek to exacerbate the crisis in Yemen by denying them access to the global financial system.”
As a consequence of the designation, all property and interests in property of Saleh Mesfer Alshaer that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to the OFAC. In addition, U.S. persons are prohibited from all transactions with him.
“This action is a message to the people of Yemen that the United States stands with them,”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “We will not relent in targeting those who are perpetuating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and seeking to profit from the suffering of the Yemeni people.”