US Sanctions Houthi Military Leaders as Yemen Peace Efforts Stall

Biden is not pressuring Saudi Arabia to lift the blockade on Yemen, which is a key Houthi demand for a ceasefire

The US slapped sanctions on two senior Houthi military commanders on Thursday as peace efforts to end the brutal US-backed Saudi-led war on Yemen continue to fail.

The Biden administration sanctioned the commanders over their role in the Houthi offensive in Yemen’s Maarib province, the only significant territory held by the Saudi-backed government. The US is blaming this offensive for the lack of a ceasefire. But the US refuses to pressure the Saudis into lifting the blockade on Yemen, which is a key Houthi demand for a truce.

The embargo is still being enforced despite UN warnings that 400,000 Yemeni children will starve to death in 2021 alone if conditions do not change. As long as the blockade is in effect, the Houthis have no reason to negotiate with the Saudis. New sanctions from the US give the Houthis even less motive for talks. The sanctions have virtually no impact on the Houthi commanders unless they have assets in the US, so the measure’s only purpose is to send a negative message to the Houthis.

In a statement on the sanctions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Iran of giving the Houthis military support. “The Houthis benefit from generous military support from the Iranian government to wage attacks against civilian population centers and commercial shipping infrastructure in Yemen, exacerbating conditions in what the United Nations calls one of the world’s worst current humanitarian disasters,” he said.

While Iran openly supports the Houthis politically, it’s not clear how much military support Tehran provides, if any. Considering Yemen has been under a full blockade since 2015, it would be tough to get weapons in. What is known is that until very recently, the US has given full-throated support to the Saudi-UAE coalition while it used siege tactics against the civilian population of Yemen, which has led to mass starvation and widespread disease.

In February, President Biden announced he was ending support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen. At the end of April, the Pentagon finally admitted that it was still servicing Saudi warplanes that continue to bomb Yemen.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.