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Yemen: Houthi demands hindered renewal of truce, says US envoy

Forces loyal to Yemen's Houthi rebels take part in a military parade marking the seventh anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition's intervention in their country, in the capital Sanaa, on March 31, 2022 [MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images]
Forces loyal to Yemen's Houthi rebels take part in a military parade in the capital Sanaa. [MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images]

The US Special Envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, said on Wednesday that the Houthis' "maximalist demands" had hindered UN efforts to renew a six-month truce in the country that ended in October. Lenderking made his comment during a hearing on Yemen's civil war before the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee, the content of which was published on the Twitter account of the US Embassy in Yemen.

"Yemen is currently experiencing the longest period of calm since the war began eight years ago," the envoy explained. "Not only has this calm brought tangible relief to millions of Yemenis, it has also created a unique opportunity for a peace process.  The situation remains fragile, however, particularly as we have witnessed Houthi backtracking on their commitments, introduction of maximalist demands, and – most concerningly – a series of recent attacks threatening international maritime shipping."

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Regarding the failure to extend the truce, Lenderking said that, "The last-minute Houthi demand that the Yemeni Government divert its limited oil export revenues to pay the salaries of active Houthi combatants – even as the Houthis refused to commit to a ceasefire – prevented the UN from securing a new truce agreement between the parties in October."

It was not possible to obtain immediate comment from the Houthis on what the US envoy said. However, recently, the movement launched attacks on three oil ports — Al-Daba, Al-Nashima and Qena — in the provinces of Hadramout and Shabwa in eastern Yemen, after the failure to extend the truce.

The Yemeni war began after the Houthis took control of the capital, Sana'a, and several provinces at the end of 2014, with the support of the forces of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He was killed in 2017 in confrontations with the group following the end of their alliance.

The conflict has escalated since March 2015, when an Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened to support the legitimate government forces against the Iran-backed Houthis.

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