With Washington appointing a special envoy to Yemen and President Joe Biden expressing his desire for conflict to end in the war-torn Arab country, it seems that US policy on Yemen is being steered in a new direction.
Unlike its predecessors, the Biden administration is showing great interest in getting involved in the particularities of the conflict.
The Trump and Obama administrations, from 2014 until 2020, maintained consistent policies on Yemen that limited US involvement to confronting terrorism, supporting UN efforts to promote a political solution, and providing relief aid to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.
US political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Trump administration has made few high-level diplomatic attempts to directly mediate internal conflicts in Yemen and contribute to reaching a settlement.
However, senior Republican and Democratic members of congress instructed the administration not to directly engage in talks and to allow UN negotiators to play a greater role in the Yemeni peace process.
The Trump administration was advised to support Arab Gulf states and exert maximum pressure on Iran.
Biden has long slammed US policy on Yemen as ineffective and urged Washington to engage in the details of the conflict.
“The Biden administration is aware that Iran's support for the Houthis is exacerbating the conflict in Yemen, especially after the US Department of Defense discovering caches of potentially Iran-made advanced weapons destined for Houthis,” sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
They added that many members of congress now share Biden’s vision on increasing direct US involvement for settling the Yemeni conflict.
“The Biden administration should chart a new course for Yemen, breaking from the flawed policies under Presidents Obama and Trump. That means retaking a leadership role to secure US interests: defeating al-Qaeda’s threat, reducing Iranian influence, stabilizing the region, and addressing humanitarian conditions,” wrote Katherine Zimmerman, a political researcher at Critical Threats.
“Yemen’s myriad conflicts even beyond its civil war have created opportunities for al-Qaeda and the Houthis to strengthen, destabilized the Arabian Peninsula, and exacerbated already-poor humanitarian conditions,” she explained.
“The US should help resolve the key underlying issue: the future division of power and resources in Yemen.”
Zimmerman added that the US should ensure the Houthis do not benefit from assistance programs.