US envoy visits Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for talks on Iran and Yemen

US special envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking is visiting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to coordinate regional security and concerns about Iran, and to discuss UN-led peace efforts for Yemen, the Department of Defense said on Tuesday. State.

He said Lenderking would also discuss the detention by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen, the de facto authority in the north, of some Yemeni staff members at the closed US embassy complex in the capital Sanaa. in 2015.

The State Department had previously said that most of the local employees had been released, without saying how many had been detained or when. The US embassy in Sanaa closed after the Houthis expelled the internationally recognized government from Sanaa in late 2014. It has operated in Riyadh since then.

Mohamed Ali al-Houthi, head of the Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee, in a Twitter post on Sunday criticized the United States for “abandoning” local personnel, but did not directly refer to their arrest.

Lenderking has visited the region frequently this year as part of UN-led efforts to engineer a ceasefire in Yemen necessary to restart political talks to end the war, in which a Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015 against the Houthis.

A man chanted slogans as he and supporters of the Houthi movement attend a rally to celebrate the group’s claims of military advances near the borders with Saudi Arabia, in Sanaa, Yemen, on October 4, 2019 (credit: MOHAMED AL- SAYAGHI / REUTERS). )

The conflict, which has killed tens of thousands of people and sparked a serious humanitarian crisis, is seen as an indirect war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Washington has been pressuring Riyadh to lift a coalition blockade on Houthi-controlled ports, a condition of the group for starting truce talks. Riyadh wants a simultaneous deal.

Lenderking’s visit comes as Houthi forces advance into areas south of Hodeidah’s main port following a withdrawal of coalition forces from the area. The movement has also recently made territorial gains in gas-rich Marib, the last government stronghold in the north, and oil-rich Shabwa in the south.

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