March 19, 2021
The US accused Iran of fueling the conflict in Yemen, saying Tehran takes a negative stance by supporting the Houthi militias, which in turn assault Yemeni civilians and attack Saudi territory.
US Special Envoy Tim Lenderking intensified talks with Arab and other ambassadors and officials on the war in Yemen.
Lenderking discussed with Egyptian, Bahraini, and Omani Ambassadors to the US ways to reach a peaceful solution to Yemen’s war.
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs of the US State Department tweeted that Lenderking continues to believe the time is now to resolve the conflict in Yemen, saying “here is strong regional consensus and close coordination with our Arab partners toward this end.”
Lenderking also discussed with the chief of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Antonio Vitorino, the fire at the migrant facility in Sanaa that killed dozens, mostly Ethiopians, and injured over 170.
They discussed the “tragic fire at the migrant facility in Sanaa last Sunday, the importance of an investigation into the causes, and the critical need for aid and protection to reach those in need.”
During a press conference Wednesday, the State Department’s deputy spokesperson, Jalina Porter, condemned all Houthi drone and missile attacks against Saudi Arabia.
“These attacks are unacceptable and they’re dangerous, and quite frankly, they put the lives of civilians at risk,” she warned.
In response to Asharq Al-Awsat’s question about direct or indirect communications with Iran to end its support for Houthis, Porter stressed that Tehran has a chance to reverse what it’s doing and play a more positive, influential role in Yemen.
“I’ll just again reiterate what we’ve said earlier: that we condemn all egregious Houthi drones and missile attacks against Saudi Arabia. And these attacks are plainly unacceptable and dangerous.”
She emphasized that the US administration remains deeply concerned by the frequency of the Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, and attacks like these are not the actions of a group that is serious about peace.
“We certainly welcome them to join us on this pathway to peace and diplomacy and, again, we continue to call on all parties to seriously commit to a ceasefire, engage in negotiations under UN auspices in conjunction with Special Envoy Tim Lenderking.”
Porter warned that attacks like these underline the critical nature of the UN special envoy as well as Lenderking’s work in the region.
The US administration has given priority to ending the war in Yemen, which has created the worst humanitarian crisis the country is going through.
She noted that Lenderking and the US have made a priority of ending the war in Yemen, adding that the Special Envoy includes “his engagement with UN Special Envoy (Martin) Griffiths as well as Saudi Arabia and regional states to put forward a nationwide ceasefire.”
Lenderking spent two weeks in the region, and he’ll return when the Houthis are prepared to talk, said Porter, stressing that they have the time to come to the table right now and meet on the pathway to peace and diplomacy.
“Instead, they’re doubling down with bullets. So, they have a time where they can really come and resume our talks, and we’ll be ready to happen – we’ll do that when that happens.”
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned Tuesday that there can be no ceasefire and no peace in Yemen if the Houthis continue their daily attacks against the Yemeni people, Saudi Arabia, and other countries in the region.
The Pentagon is now focusing on providing assistance that is defensive in nature, such as helping the Saudi military shoot down Houthi missiles and drones targeting the country, reported The Wall Street Journal.
US officials said surveillance flights over Yemen are more focused on the parallel threat posed by the country’s branch of al-Qaeda, which is considered the most dangerous branch of the extremist group behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
While Washington is working to get out of Yemen, Iran is trying to deepen its reach, US officials say.
The US seized Iranian-made weapons off the coast of Yemen that military officials said were sent by Tehran to aid Houthi forces, which Iran denies.
WSJ also indicated that US, Saudi and Yemeni officials also say Hasan Irlu, an Iranian military commander serving as Iran’s diplomat in Houthi-controlled Yemen, has brought a new level of battlefield sophistication to the Houthis.
Last December, the Trump administration accused Irlu of training Houthi fighters to use advanced weapons and imposed economic sanctions on him.