US special envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking said the fighting in Marib is “the greatest threat to peace efforts.”
Iran’s support for Yemen’s Houthi movement is “quite large and deadly,” US special envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking said on Wednesday, as he called for a battle for the gas-rich Marib region in the country. Yemen, the biggest threat to peace efforts.
Lenderking told US lawmakers that Iran supports the Houthis in a number of ways, including through training, providing them with lethal support, and helping them “polish” their drone and missile programs.
“Unfortunately, all of this is producing very powerful effects, as we are increasingly seeing attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – and potentially other countries – more precision and more lethality. So that’s a big concern for us, ”Lenderking said at a US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing.
“Iran’s support for the Houthis is pretty big and deadly,” Lenderking said.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Lenderking’s remarks. Iran has denied supporting the Houthis.
“It has been, frankly, very difficult to intercept ships,” Lenderking said. “We need our international partners to join us. … We need countries like Oman to help keep their borders close to any kind of such trafficking from Iran. “
Since taking office in January, US President Joe Biden has made Yemen a priority and appointed Lenderking to help revive stalled UN efforts to end a conflict widely seen as a proxy war between his rivals. Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“We would like Iran to play a constructive role if it so wishes. We haven’t seen any indication of it, ”Lenderking said.
Fighting has intensified in recent days as the Houthis push their offensive to take Marib, which, if successful, would strengthen the movement’s position in any future political negotiations.
“This offensive is the greatest threat to peace efforts and also has devastating humanitarian consequences. If we don’t stop the fighting in Marib now, it will unleash a wave of even greater fighting and instability, ”Lenderking said.
“We are already witnessing this through an increase in attacks on other front lines, a significant increase in airstrikes and more Houthis. attacks on civilian and other infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, ”Lenderking added.
Lenderking told lawmakers that there are approximately 70,000 US citizens living in neighboring Saudi Arabia and “it is our greatest fear that Americans will be killed in a Houthi attack.”
Yemen’s six-year conflict was sparked after the Houthis withdrew the country’s government from the capital, Sana’a, in 2014, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee the city.
A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in 2015; the Houthis said they were fighting a corrupt system.
The UN humanitarian office says the war caused an estimated 233,000 deaths, including 131,000 of indirect causes such as lack of food, health services and infrastructure.
Saudi Arabia has come under fire for its Yemen bombing campaign that created what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Aid groups report that more than 20 million people in the impoverished Arab country are food insecure and half of them are at risk of starvation.