President Joe Biden on Thursday declared a halt to U.S. support for a Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen, demanding that the more than six-year war, widely seen as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, “has to end.”
Biden also named veteran U.S. diplomat Timothy Lenderking as the U.S. special envoy for Yemen in a bid to step up American diplomacy “to end the war in Yemen, a war which has created humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.”
The United Nations describes Yemen as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of its people in need and millions on the verge of a large-scale famine.
“This war has to end,” the Democratic president said during a visit to the U.S. State Department in Washington. “And to underscore our commitment, we’re ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.”
The move is a reversal of a policy of both the Democratic Obama and Republican Trump administrations. Biden was vice president in the Obama administration.
“At the same time,” he said on Thursday, “Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV (drone) strikes and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries. We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.”
Saudi Arabia welcomed Biden’s remarks, particularly his commitment to the country’s defense and addressing threats against it, according to the country’s state news agency.