US: There is no military solution to end war in Yemen
State Department official says Houthis will be invited to political settlement if they stop attacking Saudi Arabia.
The US has said that “there is no military solution to end the war in Yemen” and believes that the best way to end the crisis is through “aggressive diplomacy”.
In a briefing on Thursday, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tim Lenderking also said that US President Donald Trump’s administration believes “that there is room for the Houthis in a political settlement” if the rebel group stops attacking Saudi Arabia, a US ally.
“We believe that there is room for the Houthis in a political settlement. We welcome that, but not when the Houthis continue to rocket and – rocket our – a key ally like Saudi Arabia on a regular basis, and also not – not when the Houthis are menacing the border of Saudi Arabia, which is something that goes on very consistently,” Lenderking said.
“We’re pushing everybody to move into a political process as quickly as we can,” he added.
A coalition supported by the United States and led by Saudi Arabia went to war with Houthi rebels – widely believed to be backed by the Kingdom’s regional rival, Iran – on March 21, 2015.
The Houthis have recently fired several ballistic missiles towards Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and the coalition has retaliated with more air raids in Yemen.
Events took a dramatic turn on the ground earlier in December, when the Houthis announced that they had killed Yemen’s overthrown leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had recently publicly broken ties with the rebels.
The Houthis claim to have retaken most of the capital, Sanaa, from Saleh’s forces.
“We’ve called on the Houthis to cease carrying out reprisals against members of Saleh’s party, against his family,” said Lenderking.
“We’re looking to push everybody to the extent we can – and I realise that there’s own rhythm inside Yemen for these things. It’s not necessarily something for outsiders to dictate. There’s a rhythm here for Yemeni parties to come together, and this is – this is the time to do it.”
Currently, the US provides midair refuelling for Saudi and UAE warplanes that are conducting air attacks in Yemen, as well as assistance with bomb targeting, according to US officials.
Since the start of the war, more than 10,000 people have been killed and more than three million have lost their homes. More than 80 percent of Yemenis lack access to food, fuel, clean water and healthcare.
Millions face the threat of famine.
The Kingdom, in response to a missile fired towards Riyadh by the Houthis in November– said it imposed a blockade as a necessary precaution aimed at preventing weapons being smuggled into Yemen by Iran.
Saudi said it eased the blockade weeks later, but it has refused to allow commercial imports through the port city in Yemen situated on the Red Sea, at the demand of dozens of aid groups such as Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam and UN agencies.
In a White House statement earlier on Thursday, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the US welcomes news Saudi Arabia will open the port.
She blamed missile attacks towards Riyadh on Iran.
“We urge the United Nations Security Council to hold Iran responsible for its repeated and blatant violations of Security Council resolutions,” she said.
In a similar vein to Lenderking, she also called for a non-military solution to the war.
“We call on all parties to support a political solution to the war in Yemen, which is the only way to advance long-term stability in Yemen and end the suffering of the Yemeni people,” she said.