Turkey freezes assets of senior Houthi militia leaders

The ensuing conflict due to the Houthi uprising has killed around 10,000 Yemenis, according to the World Health Organization. (AFP)
Updated 18 April 2019
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Turkey freezes assets of senior Houthi militia leaders

  • Ankara has in the past targeted assets of then Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his son
  • The new sanctions targeted Houthi leader Abdulmalek Al-Houthi and two military commanders

ANKARA: Turkey has frozen the assets of three senior Houthi leaders in line with UN Security Council sanctions, the country’s official gazette said Thursday.

The decision is valid until Feb. 26, 2020, and affects Abdulmalek Al-Houthi, Abd Al-Khaliq Al-Houthi and Abdullah Yahya Al-Hakim.

The Iran-backed Houthi leadership and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh were sanctioned and blacklisted by the UN in 2014 for obstructing peace, security and stability in the country.

Ankara temporarily froze the assets of Saleh and his son in Turkish banks and other financial institutions, including safes, about two years ago. It has extended the duration of this freeze.

Saleh amassed between $32 billion and $60 billion through corruption and stashed assets in at least 20 countries during his 33 years in power, according to a UN report.

Experts are divided about Ankara’s real intention. 

Selim Sazak, an analyst and doctoral researcher at Brown University, said Ankara should have carried out these actions years ago.

“I think this is an effort to remove one of the problems in the relationship while Ankara is trying to negotiate a face-saving solution for the S-400s, while ensuring some arrangement in northern Syria that would perhaps permit Turkish troops into YPG-controlled territory,” he told Arab News.

Sazak said a senior minister was in the US capital last week to meet officials and that the decision to freeze assets might be connected to that visit.

“It is known that the US Treasury hasn’t been happy about Turkey’s inaction on Yemen sanctions. I would be surprised if it didn’t come up in the diplomatic meetings. So, they’re probably patching up that rift.”

For others, the move would contribute to the further isolation of the Houthis by blocking financial resources.

Oubai Shahbandar, a Turkey-based defense analyst, said the sanctions were an important message to the Houthis.

“Until they renounce terrorism and accept a peace process with the Yemeni government, the Houthis will continue to be viewed as pariahs by the international community. This latest measure adds more pressure as Houthi resources dry up,” he told Arab News.

Earlier, the UN Security Council expressed “grave concern” that agreements reached four months ago between the warring parties in Yemen had not been carried out and called for their implementation “without delay.”

The warring parties could start withdrawing forces from Hodeidah within weeks, a move needed to pave the way for political negotiations to end the war, the UN special envoy said on Thursday. 

Martin Griffiths said he had received on Sunday the formal acceptance of the government and the Houthis to implement a first phase of troop redeployments, while discussions were still underway for the second phase.


UN envoy warns of ‘long and bloody war’ in Libya

Updated 13 min 40 sec ago
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UN envoy warns of ‘long and bloody war’ in Libya

UNITED NATIONS: The UN envoy for Libya warned Tuesday the battle for Tripoli was “just the start of a long and bloody war” and called for immediate steps to cut off arms flows fueling the fighting.
Addressing the Security Council, Ghassan Salame said many countries were supplying weapons to the UN-recognized government in Tripoli and forces led by Khalifa Haftar.
Haftar launched an offensive on April 4 to seize the capital but his forces have been bogged down in the southern outskirts of Tripoli.
“The violence on the outskirts of Tripoli is just the start of a long and bloody war on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, imperilling the security of Libya’s immediate neighbors and the wider Mediterranean region,” Salame said.
Without immediate action to stop the flow of arms, “Libya will descend into civil war which could potentially lead to a Hobbesian all-against-all state of chaos or partition of the country,” he said.
Salame also said that Daesh has begun to reappear in Libya, and have set up flags in the south of the country.
The Security Council failed last month to agree on a draft resolution demanding a cease-fire in Libya and a return to political talks to end the conflict.
Russia refused to include any mention of Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli while the United States said it needed more time to consider the situation, diplomats said.
The envoy urged the council to set up a commission of inquiry to “determine who has taken up arms” and prevent indicted war crimes suspects from taking part in military operations.
More than 75,000 people have been driven from their homes in the latest fighting and 510 have been killed, according to the World Health Organization.