The Stream

Is an end to Yemen’s war finally in sight?

On Thursday, February 11 at 19:30 GMT:
US President Joe Biden says his administration is stopping support for “offensive operations” by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s six-year war, in what is being characterised as a major effort to bring immediate relief to civilians and push towards a negotiated end to the conflict.

Biden’s decision, announced on February 4, is part of a major foreign policy shakeup that reflects a break from the era of his predecessor Donald Trump. The US is to end logistical and intelligence help to Saudi Arabia in its their fight against Houthi fighters who control the Yemeni capital Sanaa and much of northern Yemen. The US will also stop “relevant arms sales” to the kingdom, while an envoy to Yemen has been appointed as part of a renewed diplomatic effort.

Humanitarian and human rights organisations welcomed the changes, as well as a subsequent decision by the US to begin reversing the Trump administration’s designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organisation. The UN was among those who warned the designation would only complicate efforts to deliver essential food and medicine to millions of people in Houthi-held areas who are living on the edge of famine.

But while Biden says the US will end assistance to offensive Saudi operations, he made it clear that US will continue to “support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people”, referring to recent Houthi missile attacks against Saudi territory. The precise contours of what assistance the US is willing to give Saudi Arabia for defensive military operations is still not clear. Meanwhile, overlapping local conflicts may pose a challenge to international efforts aimed at ending the war.

We’ll look at what the Biden’s administration’s policy shift on Yemen means for people enduring a war that has driven what the UN says is now the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

On this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Sama’a Al-Hamdani, @Yemeniaty

Safa A. Karman, @Karmanysa
Journalist and politcal analyst

Afrah Nasser, @Afrahnasser
Yemen Researcher, Human Rights Watch