US sanctions 2 Yemeni rebels for cross-border, sea attacks

The United States has imposed sanctions on two rebel leaders in Yemen

CAIRO -- The United States imposed sanctions Tuesday on two rebel leaders in Yemen, citing their alleged roles in cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia and shipping vessels in the Red Sea.

“The United States has made clear our commitment to promoting accountability for Ansarallah’s malign and aggressive actions, which include exacerbating conflict in Yemen, attacking our partners in the region, kidnapping and torturing civilians, preventing humanitarian aid access, repressing the Yemeni people in areas they control, and orchestrating deadly attacks beyond Yemen’s borders,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Blinken rejected that criticism, saying the U.S. could help Saudi Arabia defend itself, while also easing Yemen's humanitarian crisis and pushing for a political solution to the war.

“We will ensure Saudi Arabia and our regional partners have the tools they need to defend themselves, including against threats emanating from Yemen that are carried out with weapons and support from Iran," he said. “At the same time, the United States is working diligently at senior levels alongside the United Nations and others to bring an end to this conflict.”

The office of the Houthis' military spokesman declined to comment on the sanctions.

Al-Saadi heads the Houthi naval forces and masterminded attacks on ships in the Red Sea, while al-Hamzi supervised missile and explosive-laden drone attacks in Yemen and on Saudi Arabia, the Treasury Department alleged.

Yemen’s war started in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country’s north. The Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition intervened months later to dislodge the rebels and restore the internationally recognized government. The conflict has killed some 130,000 people and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

As Yemen’s war grinds on, Houthi missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia have grown commonplace, but only rarely causing damage. At least five civilians were wounded Monday when a Houthi projectile landed in a street in Saudi Arabia’s southern province of Jizan.