Biden must get tougher on Yemen’s Houthis: military chief

Nephew of Yemen’s former president says capitulating to Iran will not yield peace

epa09123152 Pro-Houthi forces take part in a funeral service of Houthi fighters, who were allegedly killed in the country's fierce fighting, in Sana'a, Yemen, 08 April 2021. The Houthis, which have been controlling the northern areas of Yemen since 2015, continues to intensify their attacks on the oil-rich Yemeni city of Marib and launch cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia. The US and the UN have called for the Houthis to suspend military operations, in a fresh attempt to secure a nationwide ceasefire and reinvigorate diplomatic efforts to end the war which has claimed the lives of over 233,000 people over the last six years.  EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

Washington's efforts to end the war in Yemen will fail unless it gets tough with Houthi rebels and their Iranian backers, a top Yemeni military commander said on Friday.
Brig Gen Tareq Saleh, a nephew of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who is aligned with the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition in Yemen, said the new US administration was taking a one-sided approach to the conflict.
Since taking office in January, US President Joe Biden has scaled back support to the Saudi campaign in Yemen, where Riyadh has since 2015 battled the Houthis in a bid to restore a government that the rebels overthrew the previous year.


"It's a new administration that comes in with hopes that this pressure might lead to peace, might try to take that path," Brig Gen Saleh, commander of the National Resistance Forces, said in answer to a question from The National.
"But when they start dealing with the Houthis, when they start seeing how the Houthis behave and how they respond to political dialogue, I think they'll change."
Fighting erupted in Yemen in 2014, when Iran-aligned Houthis seized Yemen's capital, Sanaa, and much of the country's population centres in the north, prompting a Saudi-led military coalition campaign the following year.
Mr Biden's efforts to find a negotiated settlement to end the war, largely focused on pressuring Saudi Arabia, have been complicated by negotiations over reviving a flagging deal to curtail Iran's nuclear programme, which was agreed to between the US, Iran and other major world powers in 2015.
The US president is reluctant to crack down on the Houthis and their allies in Tehran, Brig Gen Saleh told a group of reporters and diplomats at a virtual event hosted by the Sanaa Centre for Strategic Studies think tank.
"This pressure by the Biden administration is exaggerated because it didn't actually provide any solutions, did not try to have tangible points and it also did not exert pressure on the other side, which is Iran, to ensure there is progress," said Brig Gen Saleh.
"So, the Biden administration should also pressure Iran as well, not just one side of the parties to the conflict."
The military commander's uncle, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, had been allied with the Houthis in Yemen's multi-sided civil war until December 2017, when the rebels attacked and killed him in a rocket and gun strike on his convoy outside Sanaa.
Yemen's conflict has killed more than 100,000 people, many of them civilians, according to The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), which monitors violence in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia last month revived an initiative to end the war in Yemen, including a nationwide ceasefire and the reopening of air and sea links, but it has yet to gain traction and the Houthis rejected the initiative publicly.

The fighting continues, especially in the oil-rich Marib province.

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