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US Special Envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking said the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen were facing economic pressure and were trying to escape this crisis by launching attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

Lenderking was speaking from Oman where he met with Foreign Minister Badr Al-Busaidi. The envoy had also visited Saudi Arabia on his latest tour of the region.

At a digital press briefing, he noted the Houthis’ introduction of a new coin in some parts of Yemen. “What this shows us is that there is economic pressure that the Houthis are facing,” he said in response to Asharq Al-Awsat’s question about the new currency.

“I’ve talked about the economic pressure that the Houthis are placing on international shipping, which is harming regional economies, but it’s also harming Yemen. I would point to a 15 percent reduction in ships being able to dock at Hodeidah Port, which is a lifeblood for the Yemeni people,” he went on to say.

“These actions on Red Sea shipping have obstructed humanitarian supplies from reaching the Yemeni people. And that’s why we say that these attacks are misplaced and why they’re reckless and indiscriminate,” stressed Lenderking.

“This introduction of a new coin shows is economic pressure that is being felt by the Houthis. There is a liquidity crisis in Yemen,” he remarked.

“What this all points to is the importance of returning Yemen to a period of stability where its economic resources can be used to promote stability and benefit for all Yemenis, where salaries can be paid according to the terms of the UN roadmap, where Yemen’s fisheries are not endangered by attacks on oil tankers and other ships that could threaten these vital ecosystems,” he continued.

“That’s, again, why we need to make this push toward the Yemen peace effort, which will help the humanitarian situation and also help Yemen – Yemenis rebuild their economy,” he added.

On the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, Lenderking said: “The Houthis claim that their actions are a response to the conflict in Gaza, but their attacks only hurt ordinary people in the region.”

“These negative impacts are due exclusively to Houthi recklessness and Iran’s efforts to sow instability across the region. These attacks serve nothing more than a narrow Houthi agenda. Iran continues to enable these attacks through arms funding and intelligence support to the Houthis, reminding the world that they are the leading sponsor of terrorism,” he declared.

“The Houthis’ attacks against civilians and commercial ships are acts of terrorism. This is further exemplified by their seizure last November and continued unlawful detention of the MV Galaxy Leader and its 25-member crew,” he noted.

“Houthi attacks must stop so we can return our focus to the Yemen peace effort and direct our full attention towards supporting the Palestinians and their legitimate aspirations for a two-state solution, which Houthi behavior, frankly, is complicating and undermining,” Lenderking stressed.

“Houthi actions endanger the lives of civilian seafarers, disrupt the flow of food and other essential commodities to people worldwide, undermine navigational rights and freedoms, and irreparably harm the marine environment and sensitive ecosystems that Yemeni fishermen depend on,” he went on to say.

“The Houthi attacks are raising prices for consumers and jeopardizing the regional development goals of countries in the region that depend on shipping and international trade, including Oman. These attacks are also not helping Yemen, which remains in dire need of humanitarian and economic support,” he said.

“My hope as the envoy for Yemen is that we can find diplomatic offramps to find ways to de-escalate,” he stated. “We favor a diplomatic solution. We know that there is no military solution.”

Moreover, Lenderking highlighted the role played by Saudi Arabia in building trust and bridging the divide between Yemen’s legitimate government and the Houthis.

This “gives us some hope that we can use this moment to get beyond current tensions and refocus on what the Yemeni people need, which is an end to this nine-year civil war,” remarked the envoy.

“I do think that ultimately diplomatic solutions will have to be found, and again, that’s why the importance of consulting with regional partners who have such a strong stake in a peaceful outcome to this conflict – Oman, Saudi Arabia, and others,” he said. “We all want Yemen to be a source of stability for the region.”

Furthermore, he stressed that the US remains fully committed to supporting lasting peace in Yemen and the UN-backed peace process, and easing the humanitarian and economic crises.

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