President Joe Biden outlined his main foreign policy goals for the near future. Chief among these is to end the war in Yemen.
Yemen is the poorest of all Arab countries. The country has long suffered with endemic poverty, much of it the result of lack of water and other resources, high population growth, periodic local conflicts, and chronic food insecurity. On top of that, a civil war that began in 2014 soon turned into an indirect conflict between Iran and a coalition of Arab countries, headed by Saudi Arabia. And as is usual in armed conflict, it is the civilian population that suffers the most.
Today, over 24.3 million people in Yemen qualify for some sort of humanitarian aid and protection. Since 2015, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and some 3.6 million have been displaced from their homes.
“We’re … stepping up our diplomacy to end the war in Yemen--a war which has created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe,” said President Biden:
“ I’ve asked my Middle East team to ensure our support for the United Nations-led initiative to implement a ceasefire, open humanitarian channels, and restore long-dormant peace talks.”
At the same time, President Biden announced the appointment of long-time diplomat and Gulf expert Timothy Lenderking as the U.S. Special Envoy to Yemen. He will oversee U.S. diplomatic efforts to end the war:
“ Tim has lifelong experience in the region, and he’ll work with the U.N. envoy and all parties of the conflict to push for a diplomatic resolution.
And Tim’s diplomacy will be bolstered by USAID [and the State Department] working to ensure that humanitarian aid is reaching the Yemeni people who are suffering unendurable devastation.”
Finally, President Biden said that the United States is ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales. However, the United States will not abandon its campaign against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, much of which takes place in Yemen, nor will it cease its support of Saudi Arabia’s defensive capabilities:
“Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes, and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries. We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.”
“This war,” said President Biden, “has to end.”