29 December 2023

US imposes sanctions on money exchange services funding Houthi rebels

29 December 2023

The US Treasury has imposed sanctions on a large group of money exchange services based in Yemen and Turkey.

The United States claim several Middle Eastern financial brokers have funded Iranian-based Houthi rebels who have launched attacks against commercial shipping vessels in the southern Red Sea.

Middle Eastern agencies impacted by Thursday’s sanctions include the head of a financial intermediary in Sana’a, Yemen, and three exchange houses in Yemen and Turkey.

The US Treasury alleges the people and firms helped transfer millions of dollars to the Houthis at the direction of sanctioned Iranian financial facilitator Sa’id al-Jamal.

The sanctions block access to US property bank accounts and prevent those targeted and their affiliated companies from doing business with Americans.

Earlier this month, the US announced sanctions against 13 people and firms alleged to be providing tens of millions of dollars from the sale and shipment of Iranian commodities to the Houthis in Yemen.

US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Brian E Nelson said the action “underscores our resolve to restrict the illicit flow of funds to the Houthis, who continue to conduct dangerous attacks on international shipping and risk further destabilizing the region”.

Mr Nelson added the US and its allies “will continue to target the key facilitation networks that enable the destabilizing activities of the Houthis and their backers in Iran”.

While Houthi rebels have sporadically targeted ships in the region in the past, attacks have increased since the war between Israel and Hamas began.

In the wake of an attack on a Gaza hospital on October 17, Houthi leaders have insisted Israel is their target with their attacks on commercial tankers.

The most recent attack on freighters in the Red Sea involved a drone and a missile that was shot down on Thursday at around 6pm local time by the US military.

US military’s Central Command said the naval destroyer USS Mason shot down one drone and one ballistic missile.

“There was no damage to any of the 18 ships in the area or reported injuries,” Central Command said, adding it was the 22nd attempted attack by Houthis on international shipping since October 19.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox