Yemeni university students march during a parade by students recruited to the ranks of Iran-backed Houthis at the campus of Sanaa University in Sanaa, Yemen February 21, 2024.

US And UK Issue New Sanctions For Iran’s Militants Abroad

Tuesday, 02/27/2024

Members of Iran’s IRGC and its proxy, the Houthi militia, have been designated for actions related to the ongoing attacks on shipping and naval vessels in the Red Sea that have disrupted international trade.

Among the list of designations is the Deputy Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), Mohammad Reza Falahzadeh (Fallahzadeh), and Houthi member Ibrahim al-Nashiri. Falahzadeh has been a key figure for the Quds (Qods) Force in Syria and managed projects worth tens of billions of dollars for the Iranian regime abroad.

Also designated is Iranian Said Al Jamal, a financier who heads a network of front companies and vessels that generate revenue for the Houthis, funding advanced weaponry such as unmanned aerial vehicles and missiles. He was first designated in 2021 for supporting the IRGC-QF.

Senior Houthi figure, Ali Hussein Badr Al Din Al-Houthi, the commander of the security forces, has also been sanctioned along with IRGC Quds Force Unit 190, in charge of transferring and smuggling weapons to organisations, groups and states that are allied with Iran.

Deputy Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), Mohammad Reza Falahzadeh (Fallahzadeh)

IRGC Qods Force Unit 6000, in charge of operations on the Arabian Peninsula with personnel on the ground in Yemen supporting Houthi military activity, and IRGC Qods Force Unit 340, in charge of research and development and providing training and technical support to groups backed by Iran were also on the list.

In November, the Houthis began a naval blockade of the critical international trade route in support of Hamas in Gaza, at war with Israel in the wake of the US and UK-designated terror group’s attacks on southern Israeli communities on October 7. Trade has been disrupted with container costs to some UK businesses alone soaring 300 percent since the blockade began. 

The US Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson, said: “As the Houthis persistently threaten the security of peaceful international commerce, the United States and the United Kingdom will continue to disrupt the funding streams that enable these destabilizing activities.”

On behalf of Tehran, the IRGC-QF has provided the Houthis with an increasingly sophisticated arsenal of weapons and the training to deploy these weapons against commercial shipping and civilian infrastructure in the region, though they continue to deny involvement, claiming the Houthis are acting independently.

Iranian military officials have also provided intelligence support to target vessels transiting the region, providing key support to enable the Houthis’ maritime attacks against international shipping.

Since mid-November 2023, the Houthis have attempted dozens of strikes targeting vessels in the region after Iran's ruler Ali Khamenei called on Muslims to blockade Israel.

Initially claiming to only target Israel-linked vessels, the Houthis last week announced they would now be targeting the US and UK linked vessels in retaliation for their support of Israel.

As the blockade gets ever more global, Denmark's shipping and logistics company, Maersk, one of the world’s largest, released a statement on Tuesday warning clients they should prepare for disruptions to last into the second half of the year and to build longer transit times into their supply chain planning.

Major container shipping companies have switched Suez Canal-bound ships to the longer route around Africa's Cape of Good Hope. “Know your best alternative to entering the North American market and be ready to have mitigations in place," Maersk's head of North America, Charles van der Steene, said in a statement.

"Start quantifying and preparing to mitigate shifts in your supply chain costs," he added.

Maersk has added about 6% more vessel capacity to offset delays due to longer transit times around Africa, it said.

The UK foreign office released a statement saying: “Today, we are sanctioning key figures supporting the Houthis, who continue their attacks in the Red Sea. We will not stand by as the Houthis put innocent lives at risk, threaten regional stability and harm the global economy.”

The UK already has more than 400 sanctions designations in place on Iranian individuals and entities, most of which sit under the UK’s new Iran sanctions regime, which came into effect in December 2023 and provides new powers to hold Iran and its proxies to account.

In addition to this, one designation also sits under the Yemen sanctions regime. Introduced as autonomous regulations in the UK in 2020, it enables the UK to hold individuals or entities to account where they threaten peace, security or stability in Yemen.

Last month, the UK and US sanctioned key Houthi figures amid joint strikes from the two allies on on key Houthi sites in Yemen in a series of defensive attacks against the Yemeni militia. It was the first time UK sanctions had been issued against the Houthis since the attacks in the Red Sea began in November.

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