US lawmakers urge Biden to end Saudi blockade on Yemen

US lawmakers urge Biden to end Saudi blockade on Yemen
US lawmakers have signed a letter to President Biden calling for an end to Saudi Arabia's blockade on Houthi-held territory in Yemen, which has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis there.
3 min read
14 April, 2021
Yemen is considered the world's worst humanitarian crisis [Getty]

A group of US lawmakers have called on the Biden administration to persuade Saudi Arabia to lift restrictions on imports to Yemen, which is currently suffering the gravest humanitarian crisis in the world.

Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to Antony Blinken on Tuesday requesting that the US pressure the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen to allow the flow of commercial goods into the country, CNN reported.

"Since 2015, the restrictions imposed by the coalition have critically exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in Yemen," they wrote.

"The interference, delay, and outright blocking of commercial goods and humanitarian assistance shipped to Yemen's ports is a principal cause of price inflation, food insecurity, economic collapse, and the failure of public services in Yemen," their letter added.

Representatives Ted Deutch and Joe Wilson from  the Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Counterterrorism, and Democratic Representative Ted Lieu, compiled the document after more than 70 congressional Democrats urged the president to end the Saudi blockade on territory held by Yemen's Houthi rebels.

Read more: Famine, secession and bloodshed - six years of war in Yemen

The lawmakers said that the current blockade was not stopping the supply of Iranian goods and weapons to the Houthi rebel group, which controls most of northern Yemen and has been engaged in a six-year-long conflict with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

"Ending this practice will boost Yemen's economy, de-escalate the conflict, and prevent this humanitarian catastrophe from worsening - all important U.S. objectives," the letter added.

Last month UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock painted a grim picture of the political, economic and humanitarian crisis in Yemen, saying it was exacerbated by a blockade of fuel ships entering the country’s main port of Hodeida, which is controlled by the Houthis.

The country has recently seen intensified fighting in Marib province between the Houthis and forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, which is backed by the Saudi-led coalition.

The fighting has come amid an international and regional diplomatic push to end the country's conflict which began in 2014 when the Houthis took over the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in the war on the Yemeni government's side in March 2015, with support from the US.

The Biden administration, however, has been critical of the devastating war in Yemen, which has killed more than 120,000 people and exposed millions more to the threat of famine.

"I would end US support for the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen and order a reassessment of our relationship with Saudi Arabia," the current US president said in 2019.

He has however, promised to help Saudi Arabia defend itself against Houthi attacks on its territory

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