The United States will sanction two Houthi officials for their leading roles in the offensive on Yemen's Marib, a senior US diplomat said Thursday, in a sign of Washington's frustration with the lack of positive engagement from the Iran-backed group.
“The United States is dissatisfied with Houthi actions,” US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking told reporters during a phone call.
Lenderking, who has made five trips to the region since being appointed by Biden, said the US was imposing sanctions on the two officials to show the international community that Washington “does have levers to press; the United States is dissatisfied with the actions of the Houthis.”
During the US diplomat's most recent trip to the region, the Houthis refused to meet with UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths. Lenderking, again, scolded the group for rejecting the meeting. Asked if he met with Houthis, Lenderking did not say when his last meeting with the previously-designated terrorist group was.
“As you know, we have met with the Houthis over the years, on a number of occasions and at different levels.
Certainly, there is no restriction from the administration on my meeting with them, and I consider that constructive engagement,” Lenderking said.
Despite the US going “out of its way” to send strong signals to the Houthis that it wants to be constructive in Yemen, Lenderking voiced his frustration with the group’s behavior.
The Houthis are “not winning in Marib,” he said, referring to the group's offensive on one of the Yemeni government's last strongholds in the north.
“If there were no offensive, if there was commitment to peace, if the parties were all showing up to deal constructively with the UN envoy there would be no need for designations,” Lenderking said.