Representatives of the Iran-backed Houthi militia refused to meet UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, in Oman to discuss ending the six-year devastating war and speeding humanitarian relief to people in the war-ravaged country, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.
In a statement released upon the return to the United States of Special Envoy Tim Lenderking from a round of meetings in Oman, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the State Department said that Houthis “passed up a major opportunity” by rejecting an offer to meet Griffiths and discuss solutions aimed at ending the war in Yemen, which has triggered the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history.
“Contrary to their pronouncements regarding the humanitarian situation in Yemen, the Houthis worsen it by continuing to attack Marib and exacerbating dire conditions for already vulnerable, internally displaced Yemenis,” the State Department statement said.
The Houthi rebels have not commented on the statement so far.
This comes a few days following an interview with French Ambassador to Yemen, Jean-Marie Safa, in which he criticized the Houthis for using “hollow slogans” about peace in their public statements.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asserted that Houthis seek no solution to the war in Yemen but a military one.
“The international community must ask itself why the Houthis are seeking a military solution to the conflict with their assault on Marib, despite the tremendous humanitarian consequences,” Blinken said after a meeting with U.S. special envoy on Yemen Tim Lenderking.
Early February, the Biden administration reversed the designation of Houthis as a terrorist group due to pressure by UN relief agencies under the pretext of deteriorating the already world’s humanitarian crisis in Yemen as well as encouraging the rebels to seriously engage in peace talks.
Ironically, the decision yielded an adverse impact on war-torn Yemen, for the rebels saw an opportunity to escalate their attacks on Marib, home to about two million IDPs, and Saudi Arabia.