Report says US officers met with Yemen’s Houthis in bid to finish conflict

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Mar 3, 2021

The Biden administration opened talks with Houthi insurgent leaders late final month in a bid to finish Yemen’s civil conflict, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Timothy Lenderking, the lead US envoy on the Yemen disaster, met with Houthi chief negotiator Mohammed Abdul-Salam in Oman’s capital, Muscat, on Feb. 26.

The assembly was the primary time US officers underneath the brand new administration met with the Zaydi Shiite rebels, who’ve slowly consolidated management over a majority of Yemen’s inhabitants facilities because the outbreak of civil conflict in 2015.

Lenderking toured the Gulf area final month with stops in Riyadh, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar. The Biden administration has pushed for a swift finish to Yemen’s battle, which the United Nations has dubbed the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

US officers have each publicly and privately urged the Houthis to halt their offensive on the central metropolis of Marib, a petroleum-rich enclave that has been largely spared of preventing all through the battle.

The Houthis have negotiated with Riyad for greater than a yr towards ending the battle, however have continued to launch drone and missile assaults into neighboring Saudi Arabia. With US and different Western assist, Riyadh has led a multinational coalition to struggle the Houthis and prop up the Yemeni authorities of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Shiite rebels have ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which has exported superior Iranian missile expertise lately to battle zones within the Middle East to realize an edge over Tehran’s rivals.

The UAE has been a significant participant within the Gulf coalition, however started pulling troops from Yemen in 2019. Riyadh has additionally sought a approach out of the battle, however obstacles to consolidating a unified Yemeni authorities have till just lately hindered progress.

The Biden administration revoked a late Trump-era terror designation for the Houthis final month in a bid to jump-start peace talks, however to date there is no such thing as a signal that Lenderking’s preliminary assembly had a lot success. Details of the talks haven’t been publicly launched.

A State Department spokesperson advised Reuters the administration will “not be commenting all [of Lenderking’s] engagements.”

On Tuesday. the US Treasury introduced new sanctions on two Houthi army leaders in response to renewed cross-border assaults on Saudi Arabia.

The continued assaults and renewed rocket strikes by suspected IRGC-linked teams in Iraq have led the Biden administration to more and more emphasize Tehran’s accountability for its proxy forces.

Last week, the pinnacle of all US army forces within the Middle East, Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, mentioned accountability for the subsequent steps towards peace lie with the Houthis, “but they are prompted by their Iranian sponsors.”

“Iran has no interest in this bloody war coming to an end,” McKenzie mentioned.

Meanwhile, Riyadh’s ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed al-Jabar, has communicated with the Houthis about the potential of a buffer zone on the Yemeni aspect of the 2 international locations’ border, Reuters reported. The Houthis are reportedly requesting Riyadh raise blockades on the port of Hodeida and Sanaa airport.

If agreed, broader peace talks that embody Yemeni authorities may begin underneath UN auspices.

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