US 100 pct committed to the defense of Saudi Arabia: Washington’s envoy to Yemen

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US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking stressed that Washington is “100 percent committed to the defense of Saudi Arabia” against Yemen’s Houthis, he told Al Arabiya in an interview.

“The Saudis can rely on our commitment to their defense, as we have seen an uptick surge in the cross-border attacks on the Kingdom. Those should stop,” Lenderking said.

He added: “Also, those attacks also threatened American citizens. We have 70,000 Americans living and working all over the kingdom. And it would be a terrible thing for any of those Americans to be harmed, in addition to Saudis and all the many other international people working in Saudi Arabia.”

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Since January, Yemen’s Houthis have ramped up their attacks on the Kingdom and launched dozens of cross-border aerial attacks on Saudi Arabia. The Iran-backed militia targeted civilian areas and energy facilities in the Kingdom with explosive-laden drones and ballistic missiles.

Lenderking also expressed Washington’s concern over Iran’s support to Yemen’s Houthis.

“[Iranians] need to show some goodwill which has been entirely lacking… You have the training support they give the Houthis. [That] is entirely negative and it helps fuel the conflict. That is a great concern for us,” he said.

“If Iran wants to show good faith regarding the stability in the region, Yemen would be a fantastic place to start,” he added.

The Yemen envoy pointed to the US designating Houthi leaders as terrorists as part of Washington’s actions against the Iran-backed militia. “We have designated individuals in the leadership when we see them directing attacks, obstructing aid or engaging in corrupting… I think those designations have a strong impact.”

President Joe Biden’s administration revoked a terrorist designation of the Houthis introduced by former President Donald Trump in January. Biden also announced in February ending US support for the offensive operations of the Arab Coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, which intervened in Yemen in 2015.

Saudi Arabia maintains that it will continue to treat the Houthis as a terrorist organization regardless of whether the US decided to designate the group as such, according to the Kingdom's permanent representative to the UN.

“In terms of lifting the designation… We did assess very quickly that there would be a negative impact on the humanitarian situation and the commercial situation,” Lenderking said.

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