The US State Department released a statement on Sunday warning Yemen’s Houthis against attacks inside Saudi Arabia and further offensives against the Saudi-backed government inside Yemen.
“As the President is taking steps to end the war in Yemen and Saudi Arabia has endorsed a negotiated settlement, the United States is deeply troubled by continued Houthi attacks,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
The statement comes a few days after President Biden announced he is cutting off support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen. “We call on the Houthis to immediately cease attacks impacting civilian areas inside Saudi Arabia and to halt any new military offensives inside Yemen, which only bring more suffering to the Yemeni people,” Price said.
Saudi Arabia said it intercepted an armed drone fired into Saudi territory from Yemen on Sunday. The US and Saudi Arabia frame these cross-border attacks as offensive operations from the Houthis. But the reality is, these attacks wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for the brutal US-backed Saudi-led war on Yemen that has been raging since March 2015.
There have also been reports of the Houthis making a push against the Saudi-backed government in Yemen’s Maarib Province, the last government stronghold in the country. Since the Saudi intervention, territory has not changed hands often, and the Houthis have maintained control over most of northern Yemen and the country’s capital.
While the US is framing these Houthi actions as aggression, they are operations that are a part of the wider conflict that is almost six-years-old now.
The Biden administration also announced it is reversing the designation of the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization due to the implication it has for the starving civilians in Houthi-controlled areas, where about 70 percent of Yemen’s population lives.
The US has also suspended planned arms sales to the Saudis, although the UK is continuing to supply Riyadh with weapons. Questions remain about other US backing for the Saudis, like whether or not Washington will continue supporting the blockade on Yemen.