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Terrorism

US hits out Yemen’s Houthis, blasts Iran for impeding ceasefire efforts

“The Iranians should not get a free pass here; what they are doing is negative,” US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking said

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US Special Envoy on Yemen Tim Lenderking said Wednesday that the behavior of the Iran-backed Houthis showed they were not devoted to the interests of the Yemeni people.

Lenderking also hit out at Iran for not working to find a solution to the yearslong war in Yemen. “The Iranians should not get a free pass here; what they are doing is negative,” Lenderking said.

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Speaking during a congressional hearing in Washington, Lenderking said that “Iranian support [for the Houthis] is quite significant, and it’s lethal.”

Asked what could be done to push back against Iran and the Houthis, the veteran diplomat suggested “naming and shaming” those who continue to provide weapons for continued attacks on civilians, including attacks launched by the Houthis against Saudi Arabia.

According to Lenderking, the Houthis have conducted 150 attacks against Saudi Arabia this year. And there are about 70,000 US citizens living in Saudi Arabia, which Lenderking said were at risk because of continued Houthi attacks.

Lenderking voiced concern over the behavior of the Houthis. “We are very concerned over the way Houthis govern; many of their tactics are undemocratic,” he said, pointing to the “harassment of aid workers and blockage of aid workers being able to carry out their projects and works.”

“All of this does not sound to me like a government that is devoted or committed to the Yemeni people,” he added.

As for the ramped up offensive by the Houthis on Marib, Lenderking said the fighitng had to stop. “This offensive is the single biggest threat to peace efforts and is also having devastating humanitarian consequences,” Lenderking said.

Later Wednesday, Lenderking told a Senate committee that increased pressure on the Houthis was “definitely necessary.” He again lambasted Iran for “arming the Houthis,” which in turn used this support to attack Saudi Arabia.

“What I see is continued aiding and abetting of the Houthis by the Iranians so that they can continue attacking Saudi Arabia, and unfortunately those attacks have risen quite strongly in the last couple of months,” Lenderking said.

Read more: Houthis’ drone attack attempts on Saudi Arabia condemned by UAE