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US Envoy: Houthis' 'Maximalist and Impossible Demands' Failed UN Truce

US Envoy: Houthis' 'Maximalist and Impossible Demands' Failed UN Truce

Thursday, 6 October, 2022 - 08:00
The US envoy to Yemen, Timothy Lenderking (Getty Images)

US envoy to Yemen Timothy Lenderking blamed the Houthis for their "impossible" demands that failed the US and UN efforts to extend the truce, demanding the group shows more flexibility to achieve peace.

During a special telephonic press briefing, Lenderking warned of the resumption of fighting again after the failure of efforts to extend the armistice, warning that "a return to war, which will bring nothing but casualties and destruction on Yemen and will bring further confusion as to where this conflict is headed."

He stressed that there is no military solution, adding that moving forward will only be through the armistice proposal presented by the United Nations, stressing that diplomatic efforts "continue unabated."

Lenderking expressed optimism about extending and expanding the truce and the possibility of reaching agreements on paying the salaries of Yemeni civil servants who have not received their wages for years.

"There are still relatively low levels of violence in the country. Fuel ships continue to offload into the Hodeidah Port. There will be more continuity in civilian and commercial flights from Sanaa airport," said the envoy.

He explained that these particular elements of the truce have been extremely effective and have delivered tangible results to the Yemeni people over the last six months.

Lenderking stressed that "all channels remain open" for talks to extend the truce and return to negotiations to avoid an escalation in violence, noting a dramatic reduction of about 60 percent in civilian casualties with more than 25,000 Yemeni citizens able to travel abroad on commercial flights for the first time since 2016.

The official also stated that fuel shipments through Hodeidah port saw a five-fold increase compared with the previous year, which helped to reduce fuel prices.

He asserted that all of this can be expanded with a renewed and extended truce, and it is essential that the Houthis meet the people's demands and listen to the UN truce proposal that leads to a political process and paves the way for a permanent ceasefire.

- Iran's negative role

On Iran's role, Lenderking noted that Houthis put forward extreme demands that "salary payments be paid first to Houthi military and security personnel when there was already a positive conversation going on about paying salaries of Yemen civil servants, that this essentially hijacked the discussion and it created a threshold that was simply too hard for the other side to contemplate and was entirely unreasonable."

He explained that Iran welcomed every truce renewal on April 2nd, June 2nd, and August 2nd and announced that it favors and embraces a political solution to the conflict and that there is no military solution.

"But we need to see Iranian action borne out on the ground that supports this kind of more positive approach, and frankly, we haven't seen that. We're eager to see that, but we haven't seen it."

The envoy asserted: "We must view Iran's involvement based on what we've seen so far, which has been over the course of the conflict quite negative."

Asked about Houthi threats to attack facilities inside Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the US envoy said: "It remains in our national interest to help our Gulf partners defend themselves from any external aggression, and we would do so in the case of aggression coming from Yemen."

He indicated that two potential sales completed congressional notification, allowing for the future transfer of additional Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia and terminal high-altitude air defense, or THAAD, rockets to the UAE.

"These munitions have played a key role in defending both countries from cross-border UAS and missile attacks originating from Yemen."

- Options of the US administration

The envoy ruled out the possibility that the US is reconsidering redesignating Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), adding that the administration still has many options.

"We still have humanitarian concerns about an FTO, a foreign terrorist organization, designation. Those must be taken into consideration."

He lauded the efforts of Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, in providing contributions and funding needs, adding that Oman is concerned about instability in Yemen, which could affect the stability of Oman.

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