Eritrean diplomat asks: ‘Why is the Sudan conflict not an important issue’ for the UN?

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Updated 29 September 2023

Eritrean diplomat asks: ‘Why is the Sudan conflict not an important issue’ for the UN?

Eritrean diplomat asks: ‘Why is the Sudan conflict not an important issue’ for the UN?
  • Permanent Representative to UN Sophia Tesfamariam urges Africans to strengthen institutions, find own solutions in interview with Arab News
  • Discussed challenges facing continent, underscores need for reforms to make UN more effectual organization

NEW YORK CITY: Even as the 78th session of the UN General Assembly came to an end on Tuesday, it was clear that the curtain was not about to come down on the conversations about the tensions between the Global North and the Global South, the UN’s role in an emerging multipolar world order, and the stubborn persistence of conflicts and inequalities worldwide.

In a candid interview on the sidelines of the event in New York, Sophia Tesfamariam, the permanent representative of Eritrea to the UN, shared with Arab News her insights on the current state of affairs in the world, with a particular emphasis on the situation in violence-torn Sudan and the dynamics of African diplomacy.

Sophia Tesfamariam, Eritrea's ambassador to the UN, believes the internecine conflict in Sudan is not just due to the big egos of rival warlords but also a result of "external interventions, historical and more recent, often driven by military and economic interests." (Arab News photo)

A seasoned diplomat, she pulled no punches in discussing the myriad challenges facing her region and the wider world, while underscoring the need for reforms to make the UN a more effectual institution, for the forging of true partnerships that respect African voices, and for African nations to take charge of their own destinies.

Tesfamariam also offered her perspective on the origins and consequences of the conflict in Sudan, Eritrea’s neighbor to the west, which continues to escalate and shows no sign of abating amid continual reports of atrocities and human rights violations, including sexual violence and the disposal of corpses in mass graves.


Eritrea, which gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993, occupies a strategically important area in the Horn of Africa.

The country’s representative to the UN, Sophia Tesfamariam, wants UN chief Antonio Guterres to be vocal about African issues.

The conflict in the country between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces has so far killed more than 4,000 people and wounded at least 12,000. It has displaced 5.3 million within Sudan and sent a human tide of refugees into neighboring countries, including Eritrea. In the western Darfur region, the scene of a genocidal campaign in the early 2000s, the conflict has morphed into ethnic violence, with the UN and rights groups reporting that the RSF and allied Arab militias are attacking African tribes and clans.

This picture taken on September 1, 2023 shows a view of destruction in a livestock market area in al-Fasher, the capital of Sudan's North Darfur state, amid the war between the Sudan Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Security Forces. (AFP)

Tesfamariam described the shock that was felt in the region as Sudan descended into turmoil, saying it was something “that should have never happened” because it goes contrary to “the culture of the Sudanese people, their history, their background.”

She added: “For Sudanese people to have warring in the middle of their towns, the middle of the cities, this urban warfare is new. It’s not something that anybody can get used to.”

A handout picture taken on April 19, 2023 and obtained from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on April 21 shows a crowded ward at a hospital in El Fasher in Sudan's North Darfur region, where multiple people have been wounded in ongoing battles there. (Photo by Ali Shukur/MSF/AFP)

The crisis cannot be attributed solely to a battle of egos between the leaders of the two military forces, Tesfamariam said. Rather, she believes “this final act” is the result of the external interventions, historical and more recent, often driven by military and economic interests, that have hindered the ability of the Sudanese people to take charge of their own destiny and development since gaining independence.

Although the Sudanese people initiated the revolution that led to the overthrow of President Omar Bashir in April 2019, their aspirations were seemingly hijacked by various external interests, regional and international, which contributed to the ongoing clashes between factions within the country, according to Tesfamariam.

This picture taken on September 17, 2023 shows a raging fire at the Greater Nile Petroleum Oil Company Tower in Khartoum amid fighting between the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. (AFP)

“And this, to me, looks like what triggered these two sides (the SAF and RSF) to finally see who gains an upper hand,” she said.

“If you’re going to peel back the pieces like an onion to see where the source of this conflict is, at the source of all this you will find intervention to be the culprit.”

The conflict, which began on April 15, came on top of an already dire humanitarian crisis that has been ravaging Sudan for decades. Things have become so desperate that about 25 million people need aid just to survive, but humanitarian agencies are hamstrung by lack of access, precarious conditions on the ground, and bureaucratic restrictions on their movement both into Sudan and then to the places where the needs are most acute.

Tesfamariam highlighted the historical relationship between her country and Sudan. There was a time, for example, when Sudan was a welcoming host of refugees from Eritrea, during the latter’s struggle for independence from Ethiopia, which lasted for decades and ended in 1991.

An Ethiopian woman walks carrying packages on her back in the border town of Metema in northwestern Ethiopia on August 1, 2023. (AFP/File Photo)

“We don’t do refugee camps,” she said. “These are Sudanese. This is their home. They can come any time. And if they need to take refuge in Eritrea today, the communities of Eritrea will welcome them as one of their own as they welcomed us when we were going to Sudan.

“So, the humanitarian situation for us is something of a historical necessity, almost, an opportunity to pay back the Sudanese people for what they did for us and are continuing to do for us all these years.”

As for the international community, Tesfamariam voiced disappointment about its failure to force the feuding factions to agree to a lasting truce, despite many attempts.

“24-hour ceasefire, 48-hour ceasefire — what do these mean?” she said. “How does it give you hope as a person living in a city to know that the guns are going to stop for 24 hours? And then what happens after 24 hours?

“So, these meaningless, endless ceasefire negotiations that go nowhere tell me the international community is not serious about bringing an end to the conflict in Sudan, and the warring parties are not serious in their commitments to their people.”

A convoy of the World Food Programme (WFP) are seen in the village of Erebti, Ethiopia, on June 9, 2022, on their way to Tigray, where hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their homes by war. (AFP/File Photo)

Tesfamariam reflected on what she described as “the total ineptitude and total failure” of the UN system, including the Security Council, where, in her view, double standards are now the order of the day.

“Where is the interest?” she asked. “There are people dying on the streets of Sudan. But you have spent many, many meetings, and even many General Assembly meetings, on Ukraine. Why is Sudan not an important issue for you?

“I think this total lack of interest says a lot about the UN and its structures, and the way it works and its failures and its inadequacies to resolve issues for which it has been created.

“(The total lack) of any credible action by the (Security) Council tells me that it may not be what we think it is — this governing body that can bring peace and security to all of us — and maybe they’re leaving us to our own devices. And that’s a dangerous way to go.

“What exactly is the UN here for? It makes me wonder. So this continuous call for reform of the Security Council, reform of the General Assembly and what it can do and what is viable to do, I think, will continue. And these will be the examples that we will raise in the future to say, ‘Where was the UN?’ And I am sure future generations will also be inquiring about that.”

Eritrea's UN envoy Sophia Tesfamariam laments “the total ineptitude and total failure” of the UN system in seeking a solution to the Sudan crisis. (AFP/File photo)

Tesfamariam called on Antonio Guterres, the UN’s secretary-general, to “pay attention” and be vocal about African issues.

“Right now, there is no voice for Africa,” she said. “Yes, it is good they tell you ‘African solutions for African problems.’ But when you come right down to it, if there’s no third party involved, nothing happens. Nothing moves.”

While there is indeed a growing sense that African issues should primarily be addressed by the African Union and sub-regional organizations, Tesfamariam said she has noticed a big discrepancy between theory and reality.

Despite the rhetoric of “African solutions for African problems,” she contended, the AU does not seem to be afforded the same weight or resources as its European counterparts, including the EU.

US Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should “pay attention” and be vocal about African issues, according to Eritrean Ambassador Tesfamariam. (AFP)

“Is the AU office here (at the UN) as fortified and given all the resources and attention and ability, and even the mandate, to interact with the UN the same way as the EU is?” she asked.

“I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s there. But can we just blame it on the EU or the UN and others for not taking an interest? What are Africans doing, also?”

She continued: “Why is it that when the AU meets every year, the first wave of people who come in, sit down to listen to your discussions are the Europeans and the Americans? Do you get the same respect and luxury to go and sit in the EU meetings in Europe to find out what they are discussing? No.

“So why do you continuously relegate yourself to these kind of positions for Africans? But when you cannot pay your own bills, when everybody else is funding every single project that you have all over the place, he who pays the piper picks the tune.

“How do you say no to the largesse that’s coming from EU, from the UN and other agencies that will dictate what should be done with your agency? Why does finance have to be the center of it all? I think if Africans come up with the solution, they will also find ways to finance the projects and initiatives they are trying to push.” 

Leaders of African Union member states join a family photo session during a recent assembly  in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Union needs to strengthen itself, grow more assertive and become a vocal advocate of African interests, says Eritrean Ambassador Sophia Tesfamariam (AFP/File photo)

To start with, according to Tesfamariam, the AU needs to strengthen itself, grow more assertive and become a vocal advocate of African interests. Next, she underscored the need for Africans to take responsibility for their own issues, strengthen regional and continental institutions, and find their own solutions to problems.

She criticized the current financial dependency in Africa on external entities, arguing that it often leads to the dictation of terms by donors that might not align with Africa’s interests.

“Africans themselves have got to take responsibility,” said Tesfamariam. “We need to start looking at ourselves, to do some soul-searching and say, why are we not doing more to strengthen our own regional and continental institutions?

A file photo shows Eritrea's UN Ambassador Sophia Tesfamariam speaking during a UN General Assembly meeting. (AFP/File photo)

“These institutions can’t just be a talking shop anymore. In practical terms, what are we doing to respond to the needs of our people, of our region? How do we form partnerships — not ‘who-gives-and-who-receives’ kind of partnerships but real partnerships, where we share interests and then do things together for the benefit of global security?”

While conceding that efforts to make a dent in the “entrenched” international architecture is still “a work in progress,” Tesfamariam added: “We are not giving up now.”

She pledged to continue to work to amplify Africa’s voice in international forums, taking heart from the fact that “over the years we’ve been able to find more like-minded people.”

She added: “I am not here alone. If I felt alone before, I now have a mutual grievance society at the UN whose members feel exactly the way Eritrea feels — that same frustration with the UN and its ineptitude in some of the things, and with our failure to coalesce as a group to make a difference, to bring change to some of the issues that we have raised here.”


Explosions heard near US embassy in Baghdad — videos

Updated 9 sec ago

Explosions heard near US embassy in Baghdad — videos

Explosions heard near US embassy in Baghdad — videos
  • US forces at military bases in Iraq and Syria have faced more than 70 attacks since mid-October
BAGHDAD: Explosions were heard near the US embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone early on Friday and sirens calling on people to “duck and cover” were activated, according to social media videos from the scene verified by an informed source.
Embassy spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
It was not immediately clear whether the embassy’s air defense systems were activated or whether there was damage.
US forces at military bases in Iraq and Syria have faced more than 70 attacks since mid-October claimed by an umbrella organization of Iraqi Shiite Muslim armed groups, though diplomatic missions have been spared.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for any attack on the US embassy on Friday, which took place about 4 a.m.

Hundreds more Palestinians killed as Israel pursues Hamas in south Gaza

Hundreds more Palestinians killed as Israel pursues Hamas in south Gaza
Updated 08 December 2023

Hundreds more Palestinians killed as Israel pursues Hamas in south Gaza

Hundreds more Palestinians killed as Israel pursues Hamas in south Gaza
  • The UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) said 1.9 million people — 85 percent of Gaza’s population — had been displaced and its shelters were four times over capacity

GAZA/JERUSALEM: Israel battled Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip’s biggest cities on Thursday, leaving hundreds more Palestinians dead as almost 2 million displaced Gazans struggled to find safe refuge amid critical shortages of food and shelter.
Residents reported fierce battles going on east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza’s largest city and Palestinian health officials said three Gazans were killed in an Israeli air strike on a house in Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza.
Israel said its forces killed a number of gunmen in Khan Younis, including two who emerged firing from a tunnel.
Israeli TV showed footage, which Reuters could not independently verify, of what it said were captured Hamas fighters, stripped to their underwear with heads bowed sitting in a Gaza City street.
Some Palestinians recognized relatives and denied they had any links to Hamas or any other group. Hani Almadhoun, a Palestinian American based in Virginia saw relatives in the picture and told Reuters they were “innocent civilians with no links to Hamas or any other faction.”
“They took them from a house, that belongs to the family, in the area of the market. They detained my brother Mahmoud, 32, his son Omar, 13, my other nephew Aboud, 27, and my father 72, and several of our in-laws.”
Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said soldiers were fighting against militants in Hamas “centers of gravity.”
“During this fighting, those who stay in the area, come out of tunnels and some out of houses, we investigate and check who is linked to Hamas and who is not, we detain and interrogate all of them,” Hagari said. He did not speak directly about the images but said that hundreds of suspected militants have been interrogated so far and that many have surrendered in the past 24 hours.
Gazans have crammed into Rafah on the southern border with Egypt, heeding Israeli messages saying that they would be safe in the city after successive warnings to head south.
But more than 20 people were killed in apartments there late on Wednesday, said Eyad Al-Hobi, a relative of some of those killed.
“All apartments in the building suffered serious damage,” he said as people brought out two apparently lifeless children.
Another relative, Bassam Al-Hobi, said the building had been hit by three rockets and he gestured to bodies wrapped in white cloth, some small, on the ground and surrounded by mourners.
In Washington, a senior State Department official said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Israel’s strategic affairs minister on Thursday, and told him Israel needs to do more to protect civilians in its offensive in southern Gaza.

Israeli troops reached the heart of Khan Younis on Wednesday in a new phase of the war, now entering its third month. Health officials said three people were killed there on Thursday.
Ambulances and relatives rushed the wounded into the city’s Nasser hospital, but even the floor space inside was full. Two badly wounded children lay on a trolley and a bloodstained young boy lay screaming among the patients on the floor.
“The injuries are very severe,” said doctor Mohamed Matar. “The situation is catastrophic in all senses of the word...We can’t treat the injured in this state.”
Those who escape violence face an increasingly desperate struggle to survive.
Ibrahim Mahram, who fled to Al Mawasi, said five families were sharing a tent in the former Bedouin village, which refugee organizations say lacks shelter, food and other necessities.
“We suffered from the war of cannons and escaped it to arrive at the war of starvation,” he told Reuters.
The UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) said 1.9 million people — 85 percent of Gaza’s population — had been displaced and its shelters were four times over capacity.
UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said pressure was growing in the south of the enclave near Egypt.
“People are piling up in the little sliver of land between Khan Younis and the Rafah border,” he told Reuters.
The Gaza health ministry said 17,177 Palestinians had been killed and 46,000 wounded since Oct 7, when Israel began bombing Gaza in response to an assault by Hamas militants who control the enclave. In the past 24 hours alone, 350 people had been killed, ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said.
Israel says it must wipe out Hamas and is doing everything possible to get civilians out of harm’s way.
Israel said it had raided a Hamas compound in Jabalia, killing several gunmen and found tunnels, a training area and weapons.
The armed wing of Hamas said fighters had destroyed or damaged 79 army vehicles in Gaza City in the past three days but did not produce evidence.
The surprise Hamas incursion on Oct 7. killed 1,200 people, with 240 people taken hostage, according to Israel’s tally.
The Israeli military says 88 soldiers have been killed in ground incursions into Gaza that began on Oct. 20.
The UN has been unable to distribute aid in any part of Gaza except for the area around Rafah for the past four days, it said in its daily humanitarian report on Thursday.
A senior Hamas official told Reuters mediators were still exploring opportunities for a truce and reiterated its demand that Israel cease its attacks but the White House said Israel and Hamas were not close to a deal on a humanitarian pause.
UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Thursday there were promising signs that the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel could soon be opened to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza.
A guided-missile attack from Lebanon killed a 60-year-old farmer in northern Israel on Thursday, Hagari said, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Beirut would be turned “into Gaza” if Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, started an all-out war.
The White House said on Thursday that Israel and Hamas were not close to another deal on a new humanitarian pause and release of further Israeli hostages.


As aid runs out, Syria’s displaced fear dying of hunger

As aid runs out, Syria’s displaced fear dying of hunger
Updated 08 December 2023

As aid runs out, Syria’s displaced fear dying of hunger

As aid runs out, Syria’s displaced fear dying of hunger
  • The WFP said it “regrets to announce the end of its general food assistance across Syria in January 2024 due to lack of funding.”

ATME, Syria: Displaced people in camps in northeast Syria have expressed fears about their future after the World Food Programme announced the end of food assistance across the war-torn country.
“Stopping aid to the camps will exponentially increase suffering,” said Ali Farahat, the director of the Maram camp for the displaced in the town of Atme near the border with Turkiye.
“Some have told me ‘if aid stops, we will die of hunger’,” he told AFP on Wednesday.
In a statement issued on Monday, the WFP said it “regrets to announce the end of its general food assistance across Syria in January 2024 due to lack of funding.”
The United Nations’ food aid agency said it would “continue supporting families affected by emergency situations and natural disasters across the country through smaller and more targeted emergency response interventions.”
It told AFP the “decision is based on funding, which is a global issue that WFP faces.”
In September, the WFP had warned that insufficient funds had forced it to reduce assistance in various parts of the world, pushing an estimated 24 million people to the brink of famine.
In July, 45 percent of aid recipients in Syria were cut from assistance, it said.
“WFP’s activities by nature are fully scalable meaning they can be reduced or increased based on needs and available resources,” the agency told AFP.
Around three million people live in areas controlled by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) militant group in Idlib province.
Roughly half live in camps for the displaced, while others reside in abandoned buildings or caves, or even in old buildings and rusty buses.
Camps for the displaced are often overcrowded and lack basic needs, with residents depending principally on food, medical and other aid provided by international organizations.
Residents of those camps in northeastern Syria, including Maram in Atme, are likely to be the hardest hit by the WFP decision.
Maram’s residents could be seen queuing up to receive some of the last of their aid rations of the year.
“Stopping assistance will lead to the death of those who subsisted on them because they don’t have money to buy food,” said Ahmed Adla, 40, who was displaced 11 years ago from the village of Kurin in Idlib’s countryside.
Khaled Al-Masri, 45, displaced nearly 13 years ago from the nearby village of Hass along with 11 family members, said: “I hope they come to see our conditions and how we spend the winter. We can’t keep our children warm.”

Fears of US veto loom large on eve of UN Security Council vote on Gaza ceasefire call

Fears of US veto loom large on eve of UN Security Council vote on Gaza ceasefire call
Updated 26 min 25 sec ago

Fears of US veto loom large on eve of UN Security Council vote on Gaza ceasefire call

Fears of US veto loom large on eve of UN Security Council vote on Gaza ceasefire call
  • Saudi envoy expresses hope the US will allow adoption on Friday of resolution drafted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the UN’s Arab Group of nations
  • An 8-member ministerial delegation, led by Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan, arrived in Washington on Thursday in attempt to rally US support for the resolution

NEW YORK CITY: All eyes will be on the US during a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday, when the 15-member body is due to vote on a draft resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

However, Robert Wood, alternate permanent representative of the US to the UN, indicated that Washington continues to dismiss the need for any additional action by the council “at this time.”

The resolution was drafted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab Group of nations at the UN, and presented by the UAE, which currently occupies the Arab seat on the council.

The text, seen by Arab News, demands “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza and “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access.”

It expresses “grave concern over the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population, and (emphasizes) that the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

The vote on the resolution follows a dramatic constitutional move by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday, when he invoked one of the few powers provided to him by the UN Charter by calling on the Security Council to demand a ceasefire, to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza that could have “potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole, and for peace and security in the region.”

In a letter to the council, he said more than eight weeks of fighting has “created appalling human suffering, physical destruction and collective trauma across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Wood said that Washington’s position on the issue remains unchanged, despite the historic appeal by the secretary-general for an immediate ceasefire.

“We don’t think another Security Council product right now is going to be helpful to the situation,” said Wood.

His country is currently focused on “difficult and sensitive diplomacy geared to getting more hostages released, more aid flowing into Gaza, and better protection of civilians,” he added.

The US has been working to persuade Israeli authorities to recalibrate their approach so that the targeting of Hamas facilities and the group’s leadership is more precise, Wood said. This process will take time, he added as he expressed concern about the number of Palestinians killed and injured but said he remains confident that Israeli authorities are listening to the US calls.

Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, Abdulaziz Alwasil, said he remains hopeful that the US, one of five nations that holds the power of veto within the Security Council, will allow the resolution to be adopted on Friday.

Flanked by 57 representatives of the OIC and the Arab Group, he said an eight-member Arab ministerial delegation, empowered by the Riyadh Summit on Nov. 11 and led by Saudi foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan, arrived in Washington on Thursday morning for meetings with members of Congress and representatives of President Joe Biden’s administration, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during which they would “push for accepting the resolution presented by the Arab group.”

Riyad Mansour, the permanent observer of the state of Palestine to the UN, also expressed “sincere hope” that the Security Council will adopt the resolution and “listen to the brave, courageous principled position of the secretary-general, (which) gives you an indication of how dangerous the situation is in the Gaza Strip.”

Asked about the possibility that the Arab ministerial delegation in Washington would fail to change the view of the Biden administration about a ceasefire call, Mansour highlighted the international isolation of the US on the issue.

He said: “We are calling for a ceasefire. The secretary-general is calling for a ceasefire. All UN agencies are calling for a ceasefire. (Josep) Borrell (the EU’s foreign policy chief) is calling for a ceasefire. The EU is doing the same, (French President Emmanuel) Macron (too), not to mention Russia and China and many others.

“(Also) people in the streets, including the Jewish American community, particularly the young generation, who took over Grand Central Station (in New York), and the (other) millions in the streets.

“All of them are saying, ‘We want a ceasefire.’ (So) those who are opposing a ceasefire are among the very small minority. The lives of children are precious, so any effort to save their lives is in line with humanity and any effort not to save their lives is in contradiction to humanity.”

US imposes sanctions on Iran-backed network funding Yemen’s Houthis

Houthi supporters rally to show support to Palestinian factions, in Sanaa, Yemen October 7, 2023. (REUTERS)
Houthi supporters rally to show support to Palestinian factions, in Sanaa, Yemen October 7, 2023. (REUTERS)
Updated 08 December 2023

US imposes sanctions on Iran-backed network funding Yemen’s Houthis

Houthi supporters rally to show support to Palestinian factions, in Sanaa, Yemen October 7, 2023. (REUTERS)
  • The sanctions freeze all properties and interests in the United States of those targeted and generally prohibit Americans from conducting transactions with them

WASHINGTON: The United States imposed sanctions on Thursday on 13 individuals and entities for allegedly funneling tens of millions of dollars in foreign currency to Yemen’s Houthi group from the sale and shipment of Iranian commodities.
The US Treasury said in a statement that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s paramilitary and espionage force, backed the scheme involving a complex web of exchange houses and firms in multiple countries, including Yemen, Turkiye, and St. Kitts and Nevis.
Treasury Undersecretary Brian Nelson said funds provided by Iran have enabled recent attacks by the Houthis on commercial shipping in the Red Sea that endanger international trade.
“The Houthis continue to receive funding and support from Iran, and the result is unsurprising: unprovoked attacks on civilian infrastructure and commercial shipping, disrupting maritime security and threatening international commercial trade,” the Treasury statement quoted Nelson as saying.’
The Houthis say they have been staging drone and missile attacks against Israel and Israeli ships in the Red Sea in response to the offensive Israel launched against Hamas in Gaza after the Oct.7 rampage into Israel by Hamas militants.
Iran denies any involvement in the attacks.
Washington has said that US warships have downed missiles and drones fired by the Houthis although the Pentagon says it has not been clear that the American vessels were actually targeted. US warships have also intercepted attacks on commercial ships that the US military says were linked to multiple nations.
The sanctions freeze all properties and interests in the United States of those targeted and generally prohibit Americans from conducting transactions with them.
The Treasury said that the targeted network involved Said Al-Jamal, a key “Iran-based Houthi financial facilitator,” and Bilal Hudroj, who runs a Lebanon-based exchange house, both of whom already are under US sanctions.
Jamal has for years used a web of exchange houses in Yemen and abroad to funnel the proceeds of Iranian commodity sales to the Houthis and the IRGC, the Treasury said, adding that Hudroj has assisted in the remittances to the Houthis.
The 13 entities and individuals hit in the latest sanctions include a jewelry shop and exchange house in Turkiye, the Treasury said, as well as exchange houses, shipping agents and individuals in St. Kitts and Nevis, Britain and Russia.