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UK and US sanction key Houthi figures to protect maritime security in the Red Sea

The UK and US have imposed co-ordinated sanctions on the Houthis today to disrupt their ability to carry out attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea, and promote the peace, stability and security of Yemen.

  • The UK and US have sanctioned key figures within the Houthi regime 
  • Targets include the Commander of the Houthi Naval Forces and the Houthi Defence Minister, who are both involved in co-ordinating the recent attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea which threatens peace and security in Yemen 
  • Foreign Secretary reiterates that the UK, alongside partners, will do what is needed to protect the freedom of navigation and secure stability in the region 

The UK and US have imposed co-ordinated sanctions on the Houthis today to disrupt their ability to carry out attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea, and promote the peace, stability and security of Yemen. 

Four key Houthi figures involved in the attacks will be subject to UK asset freezes, arms embargoes and travel bans. 

This is the first sanctions action against the Houthis co-ordinated between the UK and US since the attacks in the Red Sea began in November. Pre-existing sanctions against 11 Houthi individuals and two entities remain in force. This includes Houthi Security Chief Sultan Zabin, who was sanctioned by the UN in February 2021, for heading a campaign of systematic arrest, detention, torture, sexual violence and rape against politically active women in Yemen.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron said:

These sanctions reinforce our clear message to the Houthis in recent weeks.  We can degrade their ability to attack international shipping.  We are determined to protect freedom of navigation.  We will back our words with actions.

With our allies, we will continue to target those responsible for the Houthis’ unacceptable and illegal actions, which risk innocent seafarers’ lives and disrupt aid deliveries to the Yemeni people.

Since illegally seizing power in 2014, the Houthis have waged economic warfare at the expense of ordinary Yemenis, and carried out numerous human rights abuses against the Yemeni people— including routine and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, recruitment of child soldiers and restricting the rights and freedoms of women.  

By continuing to attack ships in the Red Sea, the Houthis are imperilling the delivery of vital aid from reaching Yemen, which is reliant on food imports. UK aid helps feed 100,000 Yemeni people every month, our Yemen Sanctions Regulations include a humanitarian exemption to protect this vital work. 

Those now subject to UK action today are: 

  • Muhammad Fadl Abd al-Nabi – Commander of the Houthi Naval Forces 
  • Muhammad Ali al-Qadiri – Chief of the Houthi Coastal Defence Force 
  • Muhammad Ahmad al-Talibi – Assistant Minister of Defence for Logistics and Director of the Procurement Department 
  • Mohamed al-Atifi – Houthi Defence Minister 

The individuals are also subject to a travel ban and will be unable to enter the UK. 

Today’s action also follows strikes on 11 January and 22 January against a number of targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, led by the United States and United Kingdom, with support from the Netherlands, Canada, Bahrain, and Australia.  

It also follows a meeting between the Foreign Secretary and the Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian at this year’s World Economic Forum, where the Foreign Secretary made it clear that the Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea are illegal and unacceptable, and called on Iran to use its influence with the Houthis to prevent further threats. 

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