WASHINGTON, D.C., United States —
The U.S. Special Envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, addressed the 1st WCYS Annual Conference – Yemen Under the Scope on September 29th, 2022. Lenderking began by stressing the importance of keeping Yemen on the radar in Washington while competing with the war on Ukraine, Covid, and climate change. He remarked that the U.S. priority is seeing the truce extended and expanded and that the U.S. and the international community are keen to see progress continue. Lenderking expressed that although more could be done, the benefits of the truce on the ground are visible. He highlighted the significance of 25 thousand of Yemenis traveling on commercial airlines from Sana’a for the first time since 2016; fuel available on the market in northern Yemen, in particular, has been essential for flour mills, humanitarian access, and the transportation network. In addition, he emphasized the need to end the siege on Taiz, which is a humanitarian crisis on its own. Finally, Lenderking expressed regret that the toll of civilian casualties, although reduced by 60%, should have been zero during the truce and added that additional communication must occur across party lines to see an end to the conflict.
On expanding the truce, Lenderking commented on the Houthis’ increasing demands and warned the Houthis against undermining the opportunity to extend the truce on October 2nd, playing political games, and not driving the price beyond what is possible. He iterated the international community’s devotion to supporting and delivering benefits to the Yemeni people and their intolerance to return to war, urging all parties to move on to the next step now that the first step, the truce, has been established. He underlined the issue of civil servants’ salaries, who have been doing important work and have not been paid for years. Lenderking expressed that both sides want to see the salaries paid and expressed confidence in implementing the necessary mechanisms to do so as long as the willingness exists. Lenderking communicated the PLC’s and Saudi’s willingness on their parts; however, he still needs clarification on the other side’s demands. He added that the Houthis have publicly agreed to the truce, which would not have existed without their cooperation. He recognized elements within the Houthi leadership who would like to continue on this path and see the truce expand; nonetheless, he voiced the need for the rest of the organization to be supportive.
Lenderking expressed the importance of the future of Yemen and its children. He emphasized the need to expand the truce and establish peace, rebuild and reduce the destruction, iterating the international community’s strong posture to seize this moment and refuse to go back to war after putting pressure on all the parties to choose peace moving forward. In addition, Lenderking proposed boosting the destinations Yemenis can fly to visit families and receive the medical care they cannot receive in the country and commended the Jordanians for spearheading these efforts. Lenderking also commended the U.S. for prioritizing the humanitarian crisis, with over 5 million dollars through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the World Food Program; however, he stated that humanitarian efforts remain underfunded and urged more donors to be generous and come forward. In conclusion, Lenderking shared the sentiment of the previous speakers, who recommended prioritizing Yemen’s economy as a necessary step in establishing stability and security. Finally, Lenderking recommended that foreign interference in Yemen be minimized so that Yemenis can decide the future of their country.
The Washington Center for Yemeni Studies launched the WCYS 1st Annual Conference 2022 – Yemen Under the Scope in Washington, D.C., on September 29th. Since then, Yemeni-led in-depth conversations have brought together various political, economic, and civil society actors by offering an inclusive platform for diverse voices in Yemeni affairs to share insights and advance solutions for overarching issues and struggles in ending the crisis.
-U.S. Special Envoy to Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, Keynote Address at the 1st WCYS Annual Conference 2022 – Yemen Under the Scope.