United States envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking has extended his tour of the region indefinitely after visiting a number of Gulf countries.
His tour was supposed to last ten days, but it has so far taken 14. This is his second visit to the region since his appointment earlier this year.
He has so far visited the Saudi capital, Riyadh, where he met with Saudi and Yemeni officials.
He also paid a visit to the Omani capital, Muscat, where he met with a Houthi delegation in late February, reported Reuters.
The envoy also traveled to all Gulf countries, except Bahrain. He did, however, hold telephone talks with its foreign minister.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the extension of his tour reflects Washington’s keenness on reaching a diplomatic solution to the “grueling” conflict in Yemen.
During a press briefing on Friday, he added that Lenderking “is working closely with UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths. Everything Special Envoy Lenderking is doing is intended to support the work of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.”
On when he expects Lenderking to return to the US, he replied that he does not have any details about that, “but whether he is in the region or whether he is back here, he will remain engaged in this important work.”
Analyst Irina Zuckerman said that Lenderking’s talks with the Iran-backed Houthis in Muscat had failed dramatically. The US has yet to comment on those meetings.
In remarks to the Asharq Al-Awsat, she said Washington’s plan to resolve the crisis was not realistic. She explained that the Americans had proposed the complete Saudi withdrawal from Yemen, a cessation of hostilities, release of ships that were seized during the week and launch of an “expanded” dialogue held in a neutral location.
She did credit the Americans for being more diplomatically proactive in resolving the crisis and for reaching out to all involved parties.
She noted, however, that Washington’s decision to revoke the Houthis’ terrorist designation only emboldened them to continue their attacks on Saudi Arabia and pursue their offensive in Yemen’s Marib province.
Moreover, the contradictory messages that have been sent in regards to the Saudi-American relationship have only fueled the war, she continued.
The legitimate Yemeni government is also facing its own challenges from the Southern Transitional Council and Islah party, she said.
Furthermore, Zuckerman urged the need to abandon a plan that was not viable and to instead reach out to the allies of the US and understand the various positions in the conflict before attempting to mediate with the Houthis.