Biden to nominate veteran diplomat as Yemen special envoy in bid to solve conflict

Biden to nominate veteran diplomat as Yemen special envoy in bid to solve conflict
Timothy Lenderking will be tasked with ending the six-year conflict in Yemen, which has wrecked and starved the country.
2 min read
04 February, 2021
Houthi rebels have been designated as "terrorist" by former President Donald Trump
US President Joe Biden is expected to name a veteran diplomat as his special envoy for Yemen on Thursday, in the attempt to end the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Timothy Lenderking, a diplomat with experience in Gulf and Yemen affairs, will be leading the efforts to end a nearly six-year conflict that led the country to famine in parts of the country.

Ending the war in Yemen would fulfil the stated goals of the incoming administration of restoring the United States' leadership role in international affairs and reducing tensions in the Gulf.

Lenderking, who held the post of US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs, has been a vocal critic of the Houthi group.

He also expressed support for blacklisting the Iran-backed movement, a move that resulted in criticism of the Trump administration from humanitarian organisations as it hindered the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid.

Last month, Lenderking told Reuters there were "key reasons for considering designating the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organisation".

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"The Houthis do things that are akin to behaviour of a terrorist organisation. They target civilians," he said. "They use kidnapping as a tool of war. If anything, they seem to be deepening their relationship with the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), which from our point of view is a designated terrorist organisation."

"If they are to play as a legitimate political actor inside Yemen, we would see that these activities would have to stop," Lenderking said.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Lenderking's first tasks will be to negotiate between the warring parties and have them agree a ceasefire.

Yemen's internationally-recognised government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels are fighting for control of the country, with a Saudi-led military coalition backing the government.

The Biden administration is seeking a different approach to Yemen, one that positions the Biden administration away from the Saudi-led military coalition.

The conflict has displaced more than 1 million people and given rise to cholera outbreaks, medicine shortages, and threats of famine. The United Nations calls the humanitarian crisis in Yemen "the worst in the world".

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