President Biden spoke with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Wednesday and reaffirmed the US’s “commitment to support” Saudi Arabia against attacks from Yemen’s Houthis.
“The President underscored the US commitment to support Saudi Arabia in the defense of its people and territory from these attacks,” the White House said in a readout of the call.
The call came after a significant escalation in the Saudi-led coalition’s air war in Yemen, with January being the most violent month for civilians in the country since 2016. The most devastating strike hit a migrant detention center in Sadaa, killing 91 civilians.
The Saudi escalation came after the Houthis launched attacks inside the UAE, a response to Abu Dhabi’s role in the war in Yemen. The Houthi attacks have prompted the US to increase support for both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
Last week, the State Department approved potential arms deals for the UAE and Saudi Arabia to improve their missile defense systems. The US has also been helping Abu Dhabi intercept Houthi missiles and is sending the USS Cole and a squadron of F-22s to the UAE.
The US is also considering redesignating the Houthis as a “foreign terrorist organization” at the behest of the Emirates, a move that would do little but push more Yemenis into starvation.
Over a year has passed since President Biden vowed to end support for Riyadh’s “offensive” operations in Yemen. But the US continues to support the coalition, including by servicing Saudi warplanes that are bombing Yemen.