Iranian-backed Houthi militias have carried out a new attack on Saudi Arabia. Far from trying to reach a peace agreement, the situation on the border between the Kingdom and Yemen is becoming increasingly tense. The US has strongly criticised these attacks by the Houthis. The US State Department has stated in a communiqué that "these attacks threaten not only innocent civilians, but also the prospects for peace and stability in Yemen".
The militia, which, it should be recalled, ceased to be considered a terrorist organisation in one of the first decisions of the Biden administration, carried out an attack on population centres in Saudi Arabia with missiles and drones.
However, Arab coalition forces were able to intercept the Houthi offensive. In the official statement issued by the State Department they call on the militia to "cease these heinous attacks and engage constructively with UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and US Special Envoy Tim Lenderking to bring peace, prosperity, and security to the Yemeni people". The latter has been in the region for the past few days holding talks with Yemeni, Saudi and UN representatives.
The new US perspective on the war in Yemen provides some hope for what for many is already a lost cause. Gregory Johnsen, author of The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda and America's War in Arabia, shared his insights during a week of talks organised by Brookings Foreign Affairs that focused on the Yemeni crisis, which Johnsen said "cannot be rebuilt in one state, or even two". He also highlighted one of the aspects that makes it most difficult to achieve peace, namely the presence of so many states in the conflict. From the United States to Iran, via Saudi Arabia and even Turkey.
The US reaffirms its "unwavering support" for Saudi Arabia and that it will defend the Kingdom against any threat. Nor should it be forgotten that relations between the country presided over by Joe Biden and the Saudis have been damaged since the departure of Donald Trump from the White House, with whom Riyadh had a very good relationship. Among other things, the US veto on the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, precisely for the war in Yemen, has greatly cooled ties with those led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The condemnation by the country presided over by Joe Biden comes just days after the attack by US forces on Shiite militias, this time located in Syria. An offensive that left at least 22 dead and was described by Iran as "illegal and aggressive". The country led by Hasan Rohani itself has refused to sit down to informal negotiations with the United States regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed during the presidency of Barack Obama and from which the United States withdrew in 2018. Both countries are still waiting for the other to take the first step towards reconciliation and a return to compliance with the pact, while neither side is budging.
"Taking into account recent actions and pronouncements by the United States and three European powers, Iran does not consider this the time for informal meetings with these countries," said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh. They add that Joe Biden has not abandoned the line of pressure that Donald Trump pursued during his term in office, nor have they announced their commitments.
The Americans' condemnation of the prospects for peace in Yemen stands in stark contrast to the bombing raids carried out just days earlier by their armed forces in Syria. The Biden administration is now faced with an increasingly convoluted situation with growing stakes for all parties involved in a conflict that, by all accounts, is still far from over.