U.S. urges Yemen’s Houthis to stop military operations


Washington (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday urged Yemen’s Houthi movement to halt an offensive on the government-held city of Marib and join international efforts to find a political solution to the more than six-year civil war.

The advance by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement on the last government-held northern city threatens to complicate the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden’s new drive to intensify diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.

State Department spokesman Ned Price called on the Houthis to halt the Marib attack, cease all military operations, end cross-border strikes on Saudi Arabia and participate in a U.N.-led peace process.

The conflict pits the Houthi movement against the country’s internationally recognized government and a Saudi-led coalition.

“The Houthis’ assault on Marib is the action of a group not committed to peace or to ending the war afflicting the people of Yemen,” Price said in a statement.

The assault will only worsen the world’s most serious humanitarian catastrophe, he said, noting that a U.N. agency estimates that Marib hosts about 1 million people displaced from other areas by fighting.

“Marib is controlled by the legitimate government of Yemen,” he said. “This assault will only increase the number of internally displaced persons and exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.”

He urged the Houthis to “constructively participate” in the U.N.-led peace process and “engage seriously” with the recently appointed U.S. special envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking.

Biden appointed the veteran U.S. diplomat as part of his new approach to ending the war that also includes halting U.S. support for offensive operations by the Saudi-led coalition.

Since Biden launched the policy, however, the Houthis have pressed the assault on Marib and persisted with cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia.

“The time to end this conflict is now,” Price said. “There is no military solution.”

The United States on Tuesday also revoked the foreign terrorist organization and specially designated global terrorist designations of the Houthis, imposed by the Trump administration on its last full day in office despite warnings from aid groups and others that it could push Yemen into a major famine.

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