US President Joe Biden Thursday announced the appointment of Timothy Lenderking as his special envoy for Yemen, saying this would be part of Washington’s efforts to “push for a diplomatic resolution.”
“This war has to end,” Biden said in his first foreign policy speech since becoming president.
Biden had previously pledged to increase US efforts and pressure to end the yearslong war in Yemen.
The move was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. WSJ quoted a senior administration official as saying that the one thing missing from the US approach on Yemen was not having “a senior US person who was empowered to work on this full time.”
Lenderking is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran, Iraq, and Regional Multilateral Affairs in the Near East Bureau and a career member of the Senior Foreign Service.
His experience in the region includes time at the US embassies in Riyadh and Baghdad.
Experts and officials praised the move.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the Lenderking would bring “new and needed energy and focus to help resolve the conflict and improve stability across the region.”
Congratulations to Timothy Lenderking on his appointment by @POTUS as Special Envoy for Yemen. Tim’s expertise and US engagement will bring new and needed energy and focus to help resolve the conflict and improve stability across the region.— د. أنور قرقاش (@AnwarGargash) February 4, 2021
“Lenderking has a nuanced understanding of the Yemen conflict, and he has been consistently engaged with Yemenis from all political stripes and Yemen experts for years,” said Elana DeLozier, the Rubin Family Fellow in the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
But the US veteran diplomat will have a tough time creating incentives for peace since the Iran-backed Houthis and the Hadi government have “little political will to come to the table at the moment,” DeLozier told Al Arabiya English.
Biden also announced an end to US support for “offensive operations in Yemen.”
Earlier Thursday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the moves related to Yemen were discussed with officials in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. “We are pursuing a policy of no surprises,” he told reporters at a White House briefing.