National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday about the ongoing Saudi-Houthi peace talks aimed at ending the war in Yemen.
According to the White House, Sullivan “welcomed Saudi Arabia’s extraordinary efforts to pursue a more comprehensive roadmap for ending the war.” He said the US was sending its special envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, to the region to support the peace process.
Lenderking was appointed by Biden in 2021 to work toward a diplomatic solution in Yemen, but the current peace talks that are showing progress are being mediated by Oman. Saudi and Omani officials are currently in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, holding talks with the Houthis that are expected to result in a ceasefire agreement to pave the way for a long-term political settlement.
The Biden administration could have pressured Riyadh to make a deal with the Houthis earlier by cutting off military support. But instead, the White House successfully pressured Congress not to vote on a War Powers Resolution that would have ended US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
Over the past year, there have been no Saudi airstrikes in Yemen or Houthi attacks inside Saudi Arabia, even though a formal ceasefire expired in October 2022. The main focus of the current negotiations is to fully lift the blockade on Yemen.
Since the coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 with full US support, at least 377,000 people have been killed in the war. More than half died due to starvation and disease that was caused by the blockade and the coalition’s brutal bombing campaign.