Yemen at a 'moment of opportunity and hope', says US special envoy

Ending the war has been a major topic during UN high-level week

A man walks through a Sanaa cemetery for people killed in Yemen's war. EPA
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After years of war, Washington is seeing a “moment of opportunity and hope” for Yemen, the US special envoy to the country said on Wednesday.

Tim Lenderking praised both Saudi Arabia and the Houthis during an event at the Asia Society in New York, which took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, saying both sides were now “talking about the future of Yemen and how peace can come”.

Mr Lenderking said Washington was “keen” for all the parties involved to seize the “moment”.

The conflict, which began in 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels over threw the Sanaa government, has calmed in recent months.

In April last year, the UN helped to broker a six-month ceasefire, which expired in October. A flurry of diplomatic activity in Yemen in the months since has continued at the UN General Assembly.

Yemen has been a major topic of discussion during the high-level week, with the Saudi delegation arriving in New York as a Houthi delegation completed their first visit to Riyadh.

Omani Foreign Minister Badr Al Busaidi said a “road map” is needed for Yemen to “be at peace with itself”.

“We have to facilitate a Yemeni dialogue, and it is still not in our hands or within reach,” he added.

Speaking at another event on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Wednesday, Mr Al Busaidi stressed that a “Yemen-led process” was needed for peace to be achieved, while still lauding the Saudi-Houthi talks.

Mr Lenderking referenced the recent UN-led operation that removed more than one million barrels of oil from a decaying supertanker off the coast of Yemen, calling it a “metaphor” for the current progress being made.

The operation, which helped to avert an environmental disaster in the Red Sea, required the help of “so many people”, Mr Lenderking said.

His comments came a day after Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met to discuss the situation in Yemen.

According to a readout from the US State Department, the three leaders discussed “their commitment to a durable resolution to the conflict in Yemen in close co-ordination with Yemeni parties”.

Updated: September 20, 2023, 9:15 PM