The White House Wednesday condemned the Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport, and blasted the Iran-backed militia for prolonging the war in Yemen.
“We condemn the Houthi attack today at the Abha International Airport, a Saudi Arabian civilian airport. The attack coincides with Special Envoy Lenderking’s first trip to the region,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the White House.
Psaki was responding to a question from Al Arabiya, saying: “The Houthis, meanwhile, continually demonstrate a desire to prolong the war by attacking Saudi Arabia, including attacks on citizens.”
The Arab Coalition said on Wednesday a drone targeted Abha international airport, and a plane which was on the ground at the time caught on fire. The Houthis later claimed the attack.
The White House official said the US would continue its “diplomatic outreach and engage with various stakeholders ... to bring a negotiated settlement to end the war.”
Pictures of the wreckage from the explosive drone that tried to target Abha Int’l Airport today. This latest Houthi terrorist attack, which endangered the lives of hundreds of civilians from different nationalities, is a war crime and a flagrant violation of international law. pic.twitter.com/FTAZ4U4Rw6— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) February 10, 2021
Psaki directed questions to the State Departments over President Joe Biden’s intentions to revoke the Trump administration’s designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization.
“I know there have been some reports, but I don’t believe my colleagues at the State Department have confirmed specifics or reasoning,” she said.
Asked if removing the Houthis from the list would resolve the Yemen crisis, Psaki told reporters: “Again, I point you to the State Department. They have not even spoken to these reports.”
Later Wednesday, the State Department condemned the Houthi attack and said it was committed to improving support for “our partners Saudi Arabia to defend itself against threats to its territory.”
“There is no military solution to the war in Yemen,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said. “We again urge the Houthis to immediately stop these aggressive acts halt their offensive and mark and demonstrate a true commitment to constructively engage in peace negotiations with that.”
However, a State Department spokesperson confirmed the move as late as Tuesday to Al Arabiya English.
“We can confirm, as you have heard from Members of Congress, that we notified the Hill of the Secretary’s intent to revoke the Foreign Terrorist Organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist designations of [the Houthis],” the State Department official said.
The intention to do so has “nothing to do with our view of the Houthis and their reprehensible conduct,” the official said, adding that these acts included attacks against civilians and the kidnapping of American citizens.
The planned action is due to the humanitarian consequences of this last-minute designation from the Trump administration.