WASHINGTON — The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on members of a smuggling network that helps fund Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and the Houthi militia in Yemen, according to statements from the US Department of the Treasury and the Department of State.
The US blacklisted Sa’id Ahmad Muhammad al-Jamal and other individuals and entities involved in an international network he has used to provide tens of millions of dollars worth of funds to the Houthis in cooperation with senior officials in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Qods Force (IRGC-QF).
Those in al-Jamal’s network of front companies and intermediaries sell commodities, such as Iranian petroleum, throughout the Middle East and beyond and channel a significant portion of the revenue to the Houthis in Yemen, the US Department of State said.
“The 11 other individuals, companies, and vessel sanctioned today play key roles in this illicit network, including Hani ‘Abd-al-Majid Muhammad As’ad, a Yemeni accountant who has facilitated financial transfers to the Houthis, and Jami’ ‘Ali Muhammad, a Houthi and IRGC-QF associate who helped al-Jamal procure vessels, facilitate shipments of fuel, and transfer funds for the benefit of the Houthis,” the statement read.
Commenting on the punitive measures, US Secretary of State Antony Blinke tweeted, saying: “The United States will maintain pressure on Houthis to accept a ceasefire and engage in real talks to resolve the Yemen conflict. Today, we designated a network of front companies and intermediaries that support the Houthis in coordination with IRGC-QF.”
Blinken also said in a separate statement that the United States is working to help resolve the conflict in Yemen and bring lasting humanitarian relief to the Yemeni people. The Houthis’ ongoing offensive on Marib runs directly counter to those goals, posing a threat to the already dire humanitarian situation in Yemen and potentially triggering increased fighting throughout Yemen.
“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 needed by Yemenis, 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,” Blinken added.
Meanwhile, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control Andrea Gacki said. “This network’s financial support enables the Houthis’ deplorable attacks threatening civilian and critical infrastructure in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. These attacks undermine efforts to bring the conflict to an end and, most tragically, starve tens of millions of innocent civilians.”
“Ending the suffering of millions of Yemenis is of paramount concern to the United States, and we will continue to hold accountable those responsible for widespread misery and deny them access to the global financial system,” Gacki added.
According to the Treasury Department’s statement, Iran-based Sa’id Al-Jamal directs a network of front companies and vessels that smuggle Iranian fuel, petroleum products, and other commodities to customers throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
A significant portion of the revenue generated from these sales is directed through a complex international network of intermediaries and exchange houses to the Houthis in Yemen. This revenue helps fund the destabilizing regional activities of the Houthis, IRGC-QF, and others, including Hezballah.
Turkey-based Houthi-affiliate Abdi Nasir Ali Mahamud, a key business partner of Sa’id Al-Jamal, acts as a financial intermediary and has coordinated the smuggling of petrochemicals for the network.
UAE-based Indian national Manoj Sabharwal is a maritime shipping professional who manages shipping operations for Sa’id Al-Jamal’s network and advises Al-Jamal on smuggling Iranian oil products. Sabharwal is responsible for coordinating shipments of Iranian petroleum products and commodities throughout the Middle East and Asia while obscuring Sa’id Al-Jamal’s involvement.
Since 2017, Jami’ ‘Ali Muhammad, a Somali businessman and Houthi and IRGC-QF associate, has assisted Sa’id Al-Jamal’s efforts to procure vessels, facilitate shipments of Iranian fuel, and transfer funds for the benefit of the Houthis.