The United States’ ambassador to Yemen is cautiously hopeful about the possibilities for peace, but he acknowledges that challenges remain.
The UN-brokered truce in Yemen faces major hurdles, but Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy for Yemen, said on Tuesday that its continuation offers the best opportunity for a sustainable end to the country’s seven-year war.
The cease-fire began on April 2 and was extended for another two months on June 2. The extension was welcomed by US President Joe Biden last week. He also commended Yemen’s, Saudi Arabia’s, Oman’s, Jordan’s, and Egypt’s leaders for their efforts to assist restore normalcy in the country, including the restoration of daily international flights to and from Sanaa, as well as stimulate investment.
However, according to Lenderking, all sides, including the Houthis and their Iranian allies, must adhere to the truce’s terms. A number of Yemenis are still being held captive by the Houthis; 14 persons were captured in December, including one who died in detention.
“It gave me great pleasure to learn that Iran had welcomed the cease-fire. Lenderking stated, “That was a very good indicator.” “In Yemen, the US would want to see Iran play a good role.” They haven’t done so so far. They have, on the contrary, exacerbated the dispute.
“They (Iran) have armed, trained, and encouraged the Houthis to fire on civilians in their own nation, as well as Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries.” They’ve aided in the smuggling of dangerous materials into Yemen.
“This is not the path Yemen has to take.” Yemen is attempting to turn the corner and move away from a horrific conflict. So let Iran contribute to that endeavor; that is something we would appreciate.”
The Biden administration’s backing, according to Lenderking, “has been vital,” and it has played a “pivotal role” in helping to develop an international consensus to help prevent those who “want to destabilize this conflict” from doing so.
“I believe the president’s risk in prioritizing the Yemen situation above other issues has paid off, and I believe the international community has reacted favorably to US leadership and diplomatic engagement on this issue,” he continued.
“I believe our engagement with the Saudis, the Sultanate of Oman, and the United Arab Emirates in particular has been quite robust and powerful.”
He also thanked Jordan for its assistance, saying he is confident about the chances for long-term peace as a result of the overall progress made in recent months, particularly the ongoing cease-fire.
“We saw around 400 assaults from Yemen into Saudi Arabia at the start of the year,” Lenderking added. “We had the January assaults in the UAE on civilian targets. Things appeared to be in grave danger.
“However, a number of factors came into play, including robust diplomatic involvement and the fact that the Houthis were unable to seize Marib over the course of a year and a half, despite the massive resources they poured into the battle.”
“We haven’t even come close to achieving peace.” This war is still going on. We must capitalize on the current enthusiasm to press forward in these other areas: a long-term cease-fire, political dialogue. These are the paths and channels that will lead to a final resolution of the issue.”
Lenderking stated that one of the most important goals is to assist Yemen’s government in restoring and improving basic services and economic stability for the country’s citizens. He emphasized the United States’ humanitarian commitment, which he claims totals “approximately $4.5 billion over the course of the fight.”
He also mentioned the fate of the oil tanker FSO Safer as a difficulty. It has remained moored in the Red Sea off Yemen’s west coast since the conflict began without being maintained, and its condition has worsened, prompting worries of a catastrophic oil spill. International donors have committed more than $33 million to support emergency repairs to the ship by a team of experts, but officials say much more is required to avoid an environmental disaster that might jeopardize peace efforts.
“Let’s take advantage of this period of relative calm and confidence-building to get the ticking time bomb that is the Safer tanker, with its 1.1 million barrels of oil, offloaded onto a safer vessel so we can avoid an economic, humanitarian, and economic disaster in the Red Sea,” Lenderking said, adding that the possibility of an explosion is a concern.