President Biden’s special envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, returned from a trip to the Gulf region where he was sent to pursue a diplomatic solution to the war in Yemen. In a statement on Lenderking’s trip, the State Department said, “some hopeful progress” has been made towards a ceasefire, but commitments were still needed from both sides.
The State Department said Lenderking and the UN’s envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths “are committed to working side-by-side to push the parties to negotiate under the UN-proposed plan, which includes opening Hodeidah port and a ceasefire.”
The fact that the US and UN are still working to open the port of Hodeidah shows that the US-Saudi blockade on Yemen is still being enforced despite the fact that Yemenis are facing starvation. The UN warned if conditions on the ground don’t change, 400,000 Yemeni children under five can starve to death this year.
A CNN investigation found that Hodeidah is still under blockade. The report showed hundreds of food trucks stranded on the side of the road in the port city due to a lack of fuel. According to the investigation, the Saudis have not allowed any tankers to dock in Hodeidah since early this year.
When asked to comment on these facts, Lenderking denied the reality, according to Nima Elbagir, the CNN reporter who traveled to Yemen. “[Lenderking] denies the claims that we show in that report,” Elbagir told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“He says the US is committed to push the parties towards peace, and the questions that we have for him is: how is that possible when you are not acknowledging the full impact of that US-backed Saudi embargo on the people of Yemen?” Elbagir said.
Besides the continued embargo, Saudi bombs are still pounding Yemen. In recent days, airstrikes have hit the capital Sanaa. It’s not clear if the US has been supporting the latest airstrikes. President Biden said he was ending all US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen, leaving open the option to support Riyadh if it can be framed as defensive in nature.
The Saudis frame many of these airstrikes as retaliation for Houthi drone and missile attacks inside Saudi Arabia. But these attacks wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for Riyadh’s almost six-year siege of Yemen. The State Department said the Houthis should stop “their continued cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia.”
The Houthis’ ability to strike inside Saudi Arabia has improved in recent years. The fact that the Houthis are able to launch these attacks despite the embargo and bombing campaign shows the siege is only working to kill civilians.