US Envoy to Yemen Visits Saudi, Gulf Nations 

Photo credit: AFP

The U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking began a tour of Gulf nations on Thursday. The trip comes as part of an intense diplomatic effort to extend an UN-mediated truce in Yemen and bolster peace efforts. 

Lenderking will go to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Oman. Members of his team have also traveled to Jordan. 

“The special envoy and his team will focus on helping to meaningfully expand benefits of the truce to all Yemenis and pave the way for a permanent ceasefire and an inclusive, durable Yemeni-led resolution to the conflict,” the State Department said.

Another topic that will be discussed will be the recent instability in Shabwa, and the need for a return to calm after there was an intensification in fighting in the province. The fighting also highlights the need for additional financial assistance to the Yemeni people, Gulf nations and the U.S. have said. 

“The United States has already provided over $1 billion in humanitarian aid this year alone, bringing our total contribution to the humanitarian response in Yemen to nearly $5 billion since the crisis began eight years ago,” the State Department said. 

“We urge donors both to give generously and to make previous pledges immediately available for the sake of the people of Yemen,” the State Department said. 

Lenderking is expected to keep rallying support for efforts by the United Nations to raise awareness of certain issues pertaining to the Yemen conflict, including the threat posed by the Safer oil tanker, and the funding needed to address it. 

The oil tanker is moored in the Red Sea and holds more than 1.1 million barrels of oil. It has had little or no maintenance carried out since the Yemen war began in 2014. Therefore, its condition has deteriorated, and there are fears of a massive ecological disaster. 

Lenderking said though that the international community is the closest it has been yet to address the threat, with about $14 million unfounded and an UN-Houthi agreement to offload the oil to a temporary vessel. 

Clashes in oil-rich Shabwa are testing the new presidential council of Yemen, facing strain due to clashes between allies in the region. The fighting in the south between forces of rival factions in the Political Leadership Council, formed in April, led one member to quit, and then rescind his resignation. 

The fighting has been the fiercest in Yemen since the truce, sponsored by the UN, was reached in April. The truce is between the coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, and the Houthi group, sponsored by Iran. It has largely held. 

The EU has said it is very concerned about the recent violence in Shabwa, and the reported loss of lives. 

“The EU welcomes the efforts of President Rashad Al-Alimi and the PLC to deescalate the situation (in) Yemen,” the EU said. 

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