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US Yemen envoy visiting regional allies to discuss Iran

November 16, 2021 at 8:31 pm

US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Tim Lenderking (L) in 2015 with the Saudi Arabian Assistant Minister of Defense Mohammad Al-Ayesh (R) [Carolyn Kaster – Pool/Getty Images]

US President Joe Biden’s special envoy for Yemen is travelling to meet allies Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to discuss Iran’s activities in the region, the State Department announced Tuesday.

Tim Lenderking will join “an interagency team to coordinate approaches to regional security and a broad range of concerns with Iran,” the agency said in a statement.

“Special Envoy Lenderking will also meet with senior officials on efforts to advance an inclusive, UN-led peace process in Yemen and to bring immediate relief to the people of Yemen,” it said. “He also will discuss the Houthis’ continued detention of some Yemeni staff of the US Embassy in Sana’a and the Houthis’ breach of the US Embassy compound in Sana’a.”

The US uses an alternative spelling for Sanaa, the Yemeni capital.

READ: Yemeni government, rebels urged to hold talks on Hudaydah

The US last Thursday confirmed that an unspecified number of its locally-hired embassy staffers in Sanaa were taken hostage by Houthi rebels, who overran the complex that formerly served as the US Embassy in Yemen.

The complex had served as the US Embassy in Yemen until February 2015, when the US relocated its diplomatic presence to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia amid the country’s ongoing civil war.

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when the Houthis captured much of the country, including Sanaa. The US accuses the rebel group of serving as an Iranian proxy, a claim they and Iran reject.

A Saudi-led coalition aimed at reinstating the internationally-recognised Yemeni government has worsened the situation and caused one of the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crises, with 233,000 people killed and about 30 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Roughly 13 million people are in danger of starvation, according to UN estimates.