Yemen: an unlikely resolution of the conflict despite Biden's engagement
© AHMAD AL-BASHA A man looks out the window of a school for displaced Yemenis, in Al-Turba in the governorate of Taez, on the 4th February 2021 The belligerents in Yemen have reaffirmed their commitment to end the conflict after US President Joe Biden pledged to support "diplomatic efforts", but a solution still appears elusive at this stage, say Friday experts.
© Supplied by Le Point
D Dozens of fighters perished in night clashes in Yemen, where the rebels stepped up their attacks to seize the the city of Marib, the last bastion of power in the warring north of the country, officials said on Sunday.
The rebels have been trying for a year to capture this oil-rich city, located about 120 km east of the capital Sanaa, which they have controlled since 2014. But the battle has intensified since February 8 with the resumption of the Houthi offensive.
A success of the insurgents, politically supported by Iran, would be a blow to the Yemeni authorities, supported since 2015 by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The Sunni Saudi kingdom is the regional rival of Shia Iran, which denies providing weapons to the Houthis. These two countries are engaged in proxy wars, as in Yemen and Syria.
Biden’s announcement on ending US support for the war in Yemen, explained
The US isn’t totally out of the war. It’s just shifting into a new, less destructive posture. Speaking at the State Department to deliver a foreign policy address on Thursday, Biden outlined America’s first real strategic shift on Yemen since the Obama administration, when he was vice president. “We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales,” Biden said. But then he added an important caveat: “At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes, and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries.
In the past 24 hours, the Houthis have dispatched large numbers of fighters and launched attacks from various fronts against Marib, officials of pro-government forces told AFP.
Coalition aviation intervened in support of loyalist forces on the ground, they said. Sixteen members of pro-government troops were killed along with "dozens" of rebels, the officials added.
The Houthis generally do not disclose their losses, but various sources have reported heavy tolls on both sides since the resumption of the offensive.
The rebels also succeeded in cutting off the supply lines of military equipment in the district of Al-Abdiya, about 50 km south of Marib, "in order to prepare for attacks" and "to reinforce the siege" town, one of the military officials said.
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The government forces in the city called on the local tribes, who are armed, to come to their aid.
The upsurge in violence in Marib, as well as the increase in rebel attacks on Saudi territory, took place in a context deemed appeasing due to the new American policy in Yemen under the administration of Joe Biden.
The American president has decided to end his support for Riyadh in this war and to remove the Houthis from the list of terrorist organizations so as not to hinder, according to him, the delivery of humanitarian aid in the territories they control.
Even though it has been placed on the defensive with military escalation, the United States announced on Friday that the rebels' withdrawal from their blacklist of "terrorist organizations" would take effect on Tuesday.
The American efforts for a solution to the conflict which left tens of thousands of dead and millions of displaced according to NGOs, have thus remained without effect for the moment.
In addition to intensifying fighting in Marib after a precarious calm on the frontlines in recent months, the rebels have resumed their attacks on Saudi Arabia, this week launching drones against a Saudi international airport.
Yemen is facing the worst ongoing humanitarian crisis in the world according to the UN, with a population on the brink of famine.
UN agencies have warned that half of children under five could suffer from "acute malnutrition" in 2021, or nearly 2.3 million children. Among them, 400,000 could die for lack of "urgent treatment".
02/14/2021 12:08:07 - Dubai (AFP) - © 2021 AFP
US reaffirms Saudi 'defence partnership' in face of Huthi attacks .
Washington has reaffirmed its "strategic defence partnership" with Riyadh in the face of increased attacks by Yemeni rebels but the move came in a call from the Pentagon not the White House. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin condemned the Huthi attacks in a telephone conversation Thursday with his Saudi counterpart, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the official Saudi Press Agency and a Pentagon statement said. The conversation came after the White House announced on Tuesday that President Joe Biden's first telephone call to Saudi leaders would be to King Salman, and not his son, the crown prince, who is the kingdom's de facto leader but has a tarnished rep