Photographer: Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Joins With Saudi Arabia, Qatar on New Yemen Sanctions

Updated on
  • Bahrain, UAE also among countries partnering in action
  • Sanctions hit 8 individuals, organization funding extremists

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. would impose sanctions on alleged terrorism financiers in Yemen, targeting eight individuals and an organization for supporting the militant groups Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Yemen.

The move was made “in partnership” with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, the Treasury Department said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. Mnuchin described the sanctions in a speech in Riyadh, calling them the first such “multilateral" effort in the Mideast and the result of a new program President Donald Trump established earlier this year to jointly target terrorist financing.

Qatar’s involvement is notable: the nation is the subject of a diplomatic isolation imposed by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE for its alleged financing of Mideast terrorist groups including Hezbollah. The U.S. has been seeking to resolve the dispute, and a senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday that Qatar has made unspecified progress in the matter.

“This bold and innovative multilateral approach is needed because terrorism poses a threat to all of our nations,” Mnuchin said in his speech.

Mnuchin is visiting the Middle East this week to discuss combating terrorist financing with officials in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Abu Dhabi. He will visit Israel, where he’ll meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the discussions will include the U.S.’s new harder line on Iran.

Trump this month refused to certify that Iran is in compliance with the multinational accord to curb its nuclear program, though he stopped short of repudiating the pact.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar set aside their differences to collaborate on the Yemen sanctions, said a senior administration official who requested anonymity to discuss the talks. The two Gulf Cooperation Council nations are at the center of a months-long dispute ever since the Saudi-led bloc cut off transport and economic links with Qatar.

“Our enemies have felt the effects of being blocked from the world financial system,” Mnuchin said. “They are finding it harder to raise, move, and distribute money. This will continue as a result of our efforts to evolve our counter-terror tools.”

The U.S. wanted to include additional targets in the sanctions, but faced push-back from other countries in the region, the official said.

— With assistance by Toluse Olorunnipa

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