Hasan Irlu

Hasan Irlu is a U.S.-designated Iranian official who serves as the Iranian regime’s envoy to the Houthis in Yemen. An official of the U.S.-designated Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF), Irlu was designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on December 8, 2020, for acting on behalf of the IRGC-QF.“The United States Sanctions IRGC Facilitators in Iran and an IRGC Official in Yemen,” U.S. Department of State, December 8, 2020, https://www.state.gov/the-united-states-sanctions-irgc-facilitators-in-iran-and-an-irgc-official-in-yemen/. The IRGC-QF specializes in foreign missions, providing training, funding, and weapons to extremist groups, including Iraqi insurgents, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

A close associate of former IRGC-QF Commander Qasem Soleimani, Irlu has supported IRGC-QF efforts for years, as he provided advanced weapons and trainings to the Houthi movement.“Treasury Sanctions Iran’s Envoy in Yemen and University Facilitating Recruitment for Qods Force,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 8, 2020, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1205. It is alleged that Irlu also coordinated with other IRGC-QF leaders to support the Houthi’s operations in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula.“Treasury Sanctions Iran’s Envoy in Yemen and University Facilitating Recruitment for Qods Force,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 8, 2020, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1205. Irlu is also accused of helping train Iran-based members of the Lebanese group Hezbollah.“US announces terror sanctions against Iran’s ‘ambassador’ to Houthis in Yemen,” Arab News, December 9, 2020, https://www.arabnews.com/node/1774316/middle-east.

In early October 2020, Irlu was named the Iranian regime’s envoy to the Houthi rebels. Irlu met with the Foreign Minister of the Houthi administration, Hesham Sharaf Abdallah, on October 27, 2020, where he presented Abdallah with his diplomatic credentials and claimed that Iran is making every effort to achieve peace in Yemen.“Yemen's Houthis want to strengthen Iran ties, minister tells Tehran's new ambassador,” Reuters, October 27, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/yemen-security-iran-int/yemens-houthis-want-to-strengthen-iran-ties-minister-tells-tehrans-new-ambassador-idUSKBN27C1WF. Iran is the only nation that has officially recognized and appointed representation to the Yemen-based movement.“Houthis vow to bolster Iran ties as Tehran's new Hezbollah-linked 'ambassador' makes appearance,” Arab News, October 27, 2020, https://www.arabnews.com/node/1754891/middle-east.

Media sources claim Irlu’s appointment serves to strengthen Tehran’s approach to support proxy groups against Iran’s rivals in the region.“Houthis vow to bolster Iran ties as Tehran's new Hezbollah-linked 'ambassador' makes appearance,” Arab News, October 27, 2020, https://www.arabnews.com/node/1754891/middle-east. On November 9, 2020, Irlu met with senior officials in the Houthi-supported Supreme Political Council (SPC) and National Salvation Government (NSG) where Irlu condemned the actions of the Saudi-led coalition, claiming “it is necessary to stop the war and blockade and help the Yemeni nation.”“Yemen: Houthi officials meet Iran's new envoy in Sanaa,” Middle East Monitor, November 9, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20201109-yemen-houthi-officials-meet-irans-new-envoy-in-sanaa/. As of December 2020, Yemen remains locked in a sectarian civil war between the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, the Southern Transitional Council (STC) backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the Yemeni government which is supported by Saudi Arabia. The Houthis began taking control of parts of the country in mid-2014 and currently control the capital, Sanaa, and other parts of the north. The ongoing violence and political instability has resulted in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as over 80 percent of the Yemeni population requires humanitarian assistance and protection.“Yemen crisis: Why is there a war?,” BBC News, June 19, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29319423.

On December 8, 2020, Irlu was designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Specially Designated National for acting on behalf of the IRGC-QF.“Treasury Sanctions Iran’s Envoy in Yemen and University Facilitating Recruitment for Qods Force,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 8, 2020, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1205.

United States

The U.S. Department of Treasury designated Hasan Irlu as a Specially Designated National on December 8, 2020.“Treasury Sanctions Iran’s Envoy in Yemen and University Facilitating Recruitment for Qods Force,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 8, 2020, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1205.

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