| 28 September 2022, Wednesday |

Washington: Houthi Attacks Main Obstacle to Peace Efforts

The United States underscored its support to its partners in the Arab Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in confronting attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen. Washington pledged to stand by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi and provide them with the necessary supplies.

Moreover, it stressed the importance of reaching a diplomatic solution to the Yemen crisis, while noting, however that the Houthi escalation in 2021 was a main obstacle in peace efforts.

The US had announced earlier this week it was sending a guided missile destroyer and state-of-the-art fighter jets to help defend the UAE against Houthi attacks.

Responding to a question by Asharq Al-Awsat during a press briefing, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday Washington had “spoken in recent days to our partnership with our Gulf partners, two of whom, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, who have recently come under attack from these Houthi terrorist attacks.”

“These are operations that we have condemned in the strongest terms,” he stressed.

Price added that the US wanted to help Saudi Arabia and the UAE raise the rate of preventing incoming projectiles from 90 to 100 percent.

“We’re committed to working with the UAE and Saudi Arabia to help them bolster their defenses. We’re doing that through security cooperation, through arms transfers, defense trade, exercises, training, and exchanges. And those exchanges are in terms of security and defense, but also in terms of human rights and the protection of civilians, including civilian harm mitigation,” he added.

Addressing criticism over the targeting of civilians and violation of international laws, he said one must distinguish between attacks. “One is an intentional effort to target civilians and civilian infrastructure in a third country. Another is an effort to take on a threat that our Emirati and Saudi partners face from the Houthis.”

“So I think you have to distinguish these on an analytic level, but in our engagement with our partners, we continue to stress the need to prevent civilian harm, the need to protect civilian life in these operations (…) but we continue to engage our partners on this,” continued Price.

“We believe that there must be a diplomatic approach to Yemen. We believe that diplomacy is the only durable and sustainable means by which to resolve the conflict in Yemen that has allowed the Houthis to leverage the power vacuum that has worsened what is, by many accounts, the world’s worst humanitarian emergency, where more than 16 million Yemenis are suffering from food insecurity,” stated the spokesperson.

“This is a diplomatic challenge that we have prioritized from essentially day one of this administration,” he went on to say. “We are committed to this mission; we believe a diplomatic solution is the only way to resolve the conflict. We’ve always known that a diplomatic solution is not going to be easy.”

“The Houthis’ Marib offensive, including repeated attacks on civilians in Marib over the past year, has been the primary obstacle to these peace efforts,” Price remarked.

He reiterated President Joe Biden’s pledge to hold the Houthis to account and review the terrorist designation of the militias.

“We will not relent in designating Houthi leaders and entities involved in military offensives that are threatening civilians and regional stability, perpetuating the conflict, committing human rights abuses or violating international humanitarian law, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis, or seeking to profit from the suffering of the Yemeni people,” he stressed.

“We’ve taken a number of such actions, including in recent weeks and months alone, and I suspect we will be in a position to take additional action given the reprehensible attacks that we’ve seen emanate from Yemen from the Houthis in recent days and weeks.”

  • Asharq Al-Awsat