The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on two military leaders of the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen, accusing them of prolonging the country's civil war and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said it blacklisted Mansur al-Sa’adi, the Houthi Naval Forces chief of staff, and Ahmad Ali Ahsan al-Hamzi, the commander of Yemen’s Houthi-aligned Yemeni Air Force and Air Defense Forces.
"The United States condemns the destruction of civilian sites by the Houthi militants designated today. These individuals command forces that are worsening the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control Andrea Gacki said in the statement, according to Reuters.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that the government of Yemen are "committed and eager" to find a way to end the war in Yemen and called on the Houthi group to do the same. Speaking after a visit to the region by his Yemen envoy Tim Lenderking, Blinken told a U.N. humanitarian aid pledging conference: "He reports that the Saudis and the Republic of Yemen government are committed and eager to find a solution to the conflict. We call on the Houthis to match this commitment. A necessary first step is to stop their offensive against Marib."
Last week the U.N. Security Council announced sanctions on a top police security official in Yemen's capital, which is controlled by Houthi rebels, citing his prominent role in intimidations, systematic arrests, detentions, torture, sexual violence "and rape against politically active women.”
A resolution adopted by a vote of 14-0 with Russia abstaining said Sultan Saleh Aida Aida Zabin, director of the Criminal Investigation Department in the capital Sanaa, is directly or by virtue of his authority responsible for using multiple places of detention including police stations, prisons and detention centers for human rights abuses.
"In these sites, women, including at least one minor, were forcibly disappeared, repeatedly interrogated, raped, tortured, denied timely medical treatment and subjected to forced labor,” the council said, according to remarks carried by The Associated Press (AP).
"Zabin himself directly inflicted torture in some cases.” The council said on imposing a travel ban and arms embargo on Zabin that he "engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Yemen, including violations of applicable international humanitarian law and human rights abuses in Yemen.”
The resolution extended the mandate of the panel of experts monitoring the implementation of sanctions in Yemen until March 28, 2022. The devastating conflict in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, erupted in 2014 when Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized Sanaa and much of the country’s north. That prompted a U.S.-backed Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to intervene months later in a bid to restore the government of Yemeni President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi to power.
The conflict has killed some 130,000 people and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. The Security Council strongly condemned the ongoing escalation of violence in Yemen's oil-rich central province of Marib between Houthi and government forces, and the continuation of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia.
The resolution stressed the need "for de-escalation across Yemen and a nationwide cease-fire.” It expressed "serious concern at the devastating humanitarian situation in Yemen, including the growing risk of large-scale famine and the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned the council Wednesday that Yemen "is falling off a cliff” and will face the worst famine the world has seen for decades unless donors, and especially its Gulf neighbors, contribute generously to this year’s U.N. humanitarian appeal for $3.85 billion.
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