US wants to continue support for Arab coalition in Yemen

The US is encouraging the Yemeni government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, and the Iran-aligned Houthi militia to fully engage in peace talks taking place in Sweden, said Lenderking. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 December 2018

US wants to continue support for Arab coalition in Yemen

  • The US believes that the Yemen that emerges from civil war should not contain any Iranian-backed threat to Saudi Arabia and the UAE
  • The US is encouraging the Yemeni government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, and the Iran-aligned Houthi militia to fully engage in peace talks

ABU DHABI: The United States wants to continue support to the Arab coalition in Yemen’s war and will remain engaged in efforts to combat Iranian influence and Islamist militancy in the Arab state, a State Department official said on Sunday.

Since the Oct 2. murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate, the US administration has come under pressure at home over the nearly four-year-old conflict.

The Senate last month voted to advance a resolution to end US military support, which includes arms sales and intelligence sharing, for the Western-backed Sunni Muslim coalition that intervened in 2015 against the Iranian-aligned Houthis to restore the internationally recognized government.

“There are pressures in our system ... to either withdraw from the conflict or discontinue our support of the coalition, which we are strongly opposed to on the administration side,” said Timothy Lenderking, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Arabian Gulf Affairs.

“We do believe that the support for the coalition is necessary. It sends a wrong message if we discontinue our support,” he told a security forum in the UAE.

The US official’s reassurances of continued support comes as Sweden hosts the first UN-led peace talks in two years between the warring parties and as Gulf Arab leaders hold an annual summit in Riyadh on Sunday, expected to discuss the war.

Containing Iran

Lenderking said peace talks launched last week were a “vital first step” in ending the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and left millions facing starvation.

He said there were no illusions the process would be easy, but that there were signs of constructive talks and that Washington wants concrete results from the meetings focused on confidence-building measures and a transitional governing body.

“Looking down the road we seek a stable and unified Yemen that fosters rather than drains regional and global stability.”

“There is no place in a future Yemen for an Iranian-backed threat to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and vital international economic quarters,” he said, adding that the coalition was also combating al Qaeda and Islamic State militants in Yemen.

The Arabian Peninsula country lies beside the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the most important trade routes in the world for oil tankers.

The conflict, seen largely in the region as a proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran, pits the Houthi movement against other Yemeni forces loyal to the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi backed by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The Houthis, who have fired missiles on Saudi cities, control the capital Sanaa, after ousting Hadi’s government from there in 2014, and the most populous areas of the country. Hadi’s government has a base in the southern port of Aden.

Lenderking said that experts forecast there could be 1 million former combatants that need to be disarmed once a peace deal is reached, requiring security sector reform as well as restoring crippled infrastructure and shoring up the economy.

“Early recovery efforts are underway but full-scale reconstruction can only occur in a peaceful environment. For that reason, we want to close the space for malign Iranian influence.”


Iran breaks its record for most new coronavirus cases in one day

Updated 47 min 22 sec ago

Iran breaks its record for most new coronavirus cases in one day

  • Iran, which emerged early on as an epicenter of the virus, has seen its worst wave of deaths from the illness in recent weeks
TEHRAN: Iran on Tuesday reported its highest single-day toll of new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic with more than 5,000 new infections, as the country struggles to cope with a surge in transmission.
Iran’s health ministry also reported that 322 people had died from the virus, pushing the death toll over 31,000. The new infection count on Tuesday eclipsed the previous high of 4,830 last week, shining a light on the nation’s floundering efforts to combat the virus.
Iran, which emerged early on as an epicenter of the virus, has seen its worst wave of deaths from the illness in recent weeks. Monday’s death toll shattered its previous single-day record, prompting state news outlets to declare it a “black day.”
Hospitals in the hard-hit capital of Tehran are overflowing. Last week, health officials announced that the city had run out of intensive care beds for virus patients.
The increase comes after Iranians packed cafes and restaurants at vacation spots during recent national holidays, and after schools reopened for in-person instruction last month.
The government has resisted a total lockdown because it does not want to further weaken an economy already devastated by unprecedented US sanctions. The Trump administration re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran after withdrawing in 2018 from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers.
With the death toll skyrocketing, authorities are now starting to impose more restrictions. The government closed museums, libraries, beauty salons, schools and universities in Tehran earlier this month, and imposed a mask mandate outdoors.