The US Special Envoy to Yemen, Timothy A. Lenderking, is scheduled to begin an extended tour of the Gulf region in a diplomatic effort to bring an end to Yemen's six year conflict. The visit by Lenderking comes as Houthi forces move closer to the city of Marib where forces loyal to Yemen's recognised government are trying to defend the last northern governorate in their hands.
A statement by the US State Department said that the visit will be to the Arabian Peninsula but did not specify the stops. Lenderking will meet with senior government officials in the region and the UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths. The visit will last until 3 March.
The tour “will focus on the United States’ dual-track approach to end the conflict in Yemen: a lasting political solution and humanitarian relief for the Yemeni people” according to a brief Press release by the State Department.
Before starting his tour, Lenderking met virtually with EU Ambassadors to Yemen to coordinate support for the Griffiths’s efforts and for humanitarian assistance organisations.
Lenderking was in Saudi Arabia less than two weeks ago. He said that the United States was working with international and regional partners to create the right conditions for a ceasefire and push towards a negotiated settlement to end the war in Yemen.
Following Lenderking's earlier visit to Saudi Arabia, the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that he had agreed with his Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, on a diplomatic approach to a political settlement in Yemen in conjunction with discussions conducted by the US and UN envoys to Yemen in Riyadh.
The United States has in the past few weeks called upon the Houthis to practice restraint in Yemen and refrain from attacking targets in Saudi Arabia. The United States had also effectively cancelled the last-minute designation by former president Donald Trump of the Houthis as a terrorist organisation.
In terms of military support, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman that Washington will not support the Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen.
"As you know, President (Joe) Biden was clear that we will not support the offensive operations carried out by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and they heard that message clearly," he said.
Nonetheless, the United States reaffirmed its support to defend the Kingdom against all threats. A Pentagon Spokesperson said that US operations in Yemen are limited to counterterrorism, clarifying it will not participate in the Marib campaign.