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Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy to Yemen, has warned that peace efforts there must not be wasted as Washington works to contain the war in Gaza from escalating across the Middle East.
“We’ve made tremendous progress on the peace process and these peace efforts should not be squandered,” Mr Lenderking told The National on Tuesday.
“We advise all parties to not widen this conflict."
His comments came after Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed on Monday to have fired drones at Israel, in the second attack by the Iran-backed group.
Militants “launched a batch of drones during the past hours at various sensitive targets of the Israeli enemy in the occupied territories”, the group said on X, claiming the drones stopped operations at “targeted bases and airports” for several hours.
There was no immediate comment from Israeli authorities.
A senior US official told The National that Washington's Yemen mission remains “focused on securing, extending and building on the UN-led truce in Yemen, which is having tangible impact on millions of Yemenis and provides the best opportunity for peace that Yemen’s had since war began".
“The parties need to continue to choose peace and move towards a durable, nationwide ceasefire and the launch of an inclusive, Yemeni-Yemeni peace process under UN auspices,” the official said.
Despite being 2,000km away, experts have warned that the Yemeni rebels could emerge as a threat to Israel as it expands its military assault in Gaza.
Last week, the Houthis claimed to have fired missiles and drones at Israeli military targets. Israel later confirmed its Arrow aerial defence system had shot down a missile coming from the Red Sea.
Mr Lenderking has stated that he fears the Gaza-Israel conflict would affect hard-won progress on peace in Yemen, telling the US Institute of Peace last month that Houthi escalation on Gaza was his “worst fear".
There had been relative optimism on prospects for peace in Yemen in the months running up to the escalation of violence between Hamas and Israel.
A UN-brokered ceasefire in April 2022 resulted in a reduction in fighting, which has more or less continued despite the ceasefire expiring in October last year.