The United States Tuesday called on the Iran-backed Houthi militia to halt its “assault” on Yemen’s Marib.
“The Houthis’ assault on Marib is the action of a group not committed to peace or to ending the war afflicting the people of Yemen,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Price’s statement comes on the same day that Washington officially revoked the terrorist designation of the Houthis.
Marib is one of the Yemeni government’s last strongholds in the north and Washington said Tuesday that the Houthi assault would “only increase the number of internally displaced persons and exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.”
“The United States urges the Houthis to halt their advance on Marib and cease all military operations and turn to negotiations,” Price said.
Despite the US move to remove the Houthis and their leaders from the terror list, the group has continued to attack Saudi Arabia and government-held areas in Yemen. Last week, the Houthis claimed a rocket attack that struck a civilian airplane at Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport.
The Biden administration believes that its move to revoke the terror designation will facilitate Yemen’s peace process. Analysts and former US officials dealing with Yemen over the last four years are skeptical.
On Tuesday, Price said: “If the Houthis are serious about a negotiated political solution, they must cease all military advances and refrain from other destabilizing and potentially lethal actions, including cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia.”
A senior UN official warned Tuesday that around two million civilians were at risk due to the Houthi offensive. UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said that “hundreds of thousands potentially” would be forced to flee “with unimaginable humanitarian consequences.”