US blames Houthis for stalling Yemen peace deal

Up to 2 million people in Yemen have been displaced since the start of the conflict three years ago, according to the UNHCR. (AFP)
Updated 24 March 2019

US blames Houthis for stalling Yemen peace deal

  • “We are making every possible effort to end the conflict in Yemen,” Tueller told a press conference in Aden
  • Tueller also said the Iran-backed militia’s weapons pose a threat to other countries in the region

LONDON: The US ambassador to Yemen blamed the Houthis on Thursday for impeding a UN-led peace deal in the main port of Hodeidah.

Matthew Tueller also said the Iran-backed militia’s weapons pose a threat to other countries in the region.

The Yemeni government and the Houthis reached a ceasefire and troop withdrawal deal for Hodeidah at talks in Sweden in December. The pact was the first major breakthrough in efforts to end the four year war.

While the truce has largely held, the troop withdrawal by both parties has yet to materialise.

"We are greatly frustrated by what we see as delays and stalling on the part of the Houthis in implementing what they agreed to in Sweden, but I have great confidence in the UN envoy and what he is doing," Tueller said in the southern port of Aden, where the internationally recognised government is based.

"We are willing to work with others in order to try to implement these (Sweden) agreements and see whether the Houthis can in fact demonstrate a political maturity and start to serve the interests of Yemen rather than acting on behalf of those who seek to weaken and destroy Yemen," he said.

Tueller said he had "not given up hope" that the deal would be implemented in Hodeidah, where thousands of Yemeni forces backed by the Arab coalition are massed on the outskirts.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that putting pressure on Iran will force the Houthis to abide by the Stockholm Agreement. 

Speaking to Al Arabiya during a regional tour focused largely on Iran, Pompeo added that the Houthis should know that they will not win the war in Yemen, and that the Iran-backed militia only work under the guidance of the Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei and the commander of Islamic Revolution Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Al-Quds Force Qassem Soleimani.

Tueller also added that Washington was concerned about the situation in Yemen, and reiterated US support for the Yemeni government.

“We are making every possible effort to end the conflict in Yemen,” Tuellersaid, emphasizing Washington’s interest in Yemen’s unity and stability.

Tueller said the US was working with Yemeni authorities to prevent arms smuggling from Iran and to strengthen local security institutions. He added that the possession of weapons should be limited to the state.

"The fact that there are groups that have weapons, including heavy weapons and even weapons that can threaten neighboring countries, and those weapons are not under the control of the institutions of the state - this is a severe danger to the region as well as to Yemen," he said.

Tueller added that Washington hopes to reopen the US embassy in Sanaa considering that it is the capital of Yemen.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war between the Houthis and the internationally recognised Yemeni government . The Houthis ousted Hadi's government from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014.

US military to present several options to Trump on Iran

Updated 27 min 9 sec ago

US military to present several options to Trump on Iran

  • Donald Trump will also be warned that military action against the Islamic Republic could escalate into war
  • The US response could involve military, political and economic actions

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon will present a broad range of military options to President Donald Trump on Friday as he considers how to respond to what administration officials say was an unprecedented Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry.
In a White House meeting, the president will be presented with a list of potential airstrike targets inside Iran, among other possible responses, and he also will be warned that military action against the Islamic Republic could escalate into war, according to US officials familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The national security meeting will likely be the first opportunity for a decision on how the US should respond to the attack on a key Middle East ally. Any decision may depend on what kind of evidence the US and Saudi investigators are able to provide proving that the cruise missile and drone strike was launched by Iran, as a number of officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have asserted.
Iran has denied involvement and warned the US that any attack will spark an “all-out war” with immediate retaliation from Tehran.
Both Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence have condemned the attack on Saudi oil facilities as “an act of war.” Pence said Trump will “review the facts, and he’ll make a decision about next steps. But the American people can be confident that the United States of America is going to defend our interest in the region, and we’re going to stand with our allies.”
The US response could involve military, political and economic actions, and the military options could range from no action at all to airstrikes or less visible moves such as cyberattacks. One likely move would be for the US to provide additional military support to help Saudi Arabia defend itself from attacks from the north, since most of its defenses have focused on threats from Houthis in Yemen to the south.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, emphasized to a small number of journalists traveling with him Monday that the question of whether the US responds is a “political judgment” and not for the military.
“It is my job to provide military options to the president should he decide to respond with military force,” Dunford said.
Trump will want “a full range of options,” he said. “In the Middle East, of course, we have military forces there and we do a lot of planning and we have a lot of options.”
US Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Michigan, said in an interview Thursday that if Trump “chooses an option that involves a significant military strike on Iran that, given the current climate between the US and Iran, there is a possibility that it could escalate into a medium to large-scale war, I believe the president should come to Congress.”
Slotkin, a former top Middle East policy adviser for the Pentagon, said she hopes Trump considers a broad range of options, including the most basic choice, which would be to place more forces and defensive military equipment in and around Saudi Arabia to help increase security.
A forensic team from US Central Command is pouring over evidence from cruise missile and drone debris, but the Pentagon said the assessment is not finished. Officials are trying to determine if they can get navigational information from the debris that could provide hard evidence that the strikes came from Iran.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Thursday that the US has a high level of confidence that officials will be able to accurately determine exactly who launched the attacks last weekend.
US officials were unwilling to predict what kind of response Trump will choose. In June, after Iran shot down an American surveillance drone, Trump initially endorsed a retaliatory military strike then abruptly called it off because he said it would have killed dozens of Iranians. The decision underscores the president’s long-held reluctance to embroil the country in another war in the Middle East.
Instead, Trump opted to have US military cyber forces carry out a strike against military computer systems used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to control rocket and missile launchers, according to US officials.