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Red Sea Attacks Undermining Yemen Peace Process: US Official

By AFP – Agence France Presse
Yemen’s Huthi rebels are undermining the war-torn country’s peace process by attacking ships in the Red Sea, US special envoy Tim Lenderking said on Wednesday, urging them to stop.

Attacks by the Iran-backed rebels are also preventing humanitarian aid from getting to their own people and to the Gaza Strip, Lenderking said following visits to Saudi and Oman.

The Huthis, who control much of Yemen including the capital Sanaa, are fighting a Saudi-led coalition in a conflict that has caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

“The Huthi must immediately halt their attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden because they are undermining progress on the Yemen peace process and complicating the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Yemenis and others in need, including the Palestinian people,” Lenderking told a virtual briefing.

The Huthis have targeted dozens of ships in protest at the Israel-Hamas war, disrupting shipping in the key maritime route and triggering US and UK reprisal strikes.

In December, the UN envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said the warring parties had committed to a new ceasefire and agreed to engage in a UN-led peace process to end the war.

But Huthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea have caused progress to stall.

Lenderking said talks in Saudi Arabia and Oman, a long-time mediator, had aimed to “secure Huthi de-escalation and renew focus on securing a durable peace for the Yemeni people”.

“While there remains broad international support for an inclusive Yemeni-Yemeni peace process to find a lasting solution to the country’s conflict, successful negotiations are extremely difficult as long as the Huthis continue their aggressive actions,” he warned.

“Absent a political settlement, we fear Yemen’s humanitarian and economic crises will only get worse.”

Lenderking said shipping arrivals at the rebel-held Hodeida port, “the lifeblood for the Yemeni people”, were down 15 percent because of the attacks.

Most of the attacks have been by drone and missile, but the Huthis also captured the Galaxy Leader, a vehicle-carrying ship, along with its international crew in November.

“Unfortunately, these attacks against international shipping have undermined the credibility of the Huthis as a good faith actor in Yemen,” said Lenderking, calling on them to release the Galaxy Leader’s crew.

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