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Iran blacklists US Envoy to Yemen in tit-for-tat move

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo. (State Department photo by Ron Przysucha)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran has blacklisted the U.S. ambassador to Yemen in retaliation to sanctions imposed by Washington against Tehran’s envoy to the Huthi rebels fighting in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

“Highlighting his key role in Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, Iran puts Christopher Henzel’s name on its sanctions list,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced on its website on December 9.

Tehran’s action, coming a day after the U.S. move targeting Iran’s envoy to Yemen’s Huthi rebels, allows the seizure of any assets the U.S. ambassador might hold in Iran. However, the move is seen as symbolic.

In announcing the sanctions against Iranian envoy Hassan Irlu on December 8, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “Iran’s support for the Huthis fuels the conflict in Yemen and exacerbates the country’s instability.”

In addition to the sanctions imposed against Irlu, the U.S. Treasury Department also blacklisted the Qom-based Al-Mustafa International University for recruiting members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force.

The Iranian-backed Huthis have been engaged in a bloody civil war in Yemen against the Yemeni government and a Saudi-led coalition for the past five years. The U.S. move was reportedly seen as a possible effort to force the group to reach a peace agreement.