The US decision to back off from the Yemen conflict has already led to an opposite reaction from what the Biden Administration probably expected. In a bid to reportedly de-escalate and shift from the traditional leanings of US foreign police in the Middle East, President Biden has announced the removal of all US support for operations in Yemen for allies such as Saudi Arabia.
Instead of stemming the violence, this has fueled hostilities even further. The brazen attack on a commercial aircraft in the Saudi Arabian Abha airport shows that a simple attempt to take a backseat will not work. The Houthi rebels undoubtedly saw this as the perfect opportunity to strike. At a time when the Kingdom had lost one of its key allies in this conflict, the rebels probably saw their enemy at its weakest.
However, the fact that the target of this incident were civilians indicates that the rebels have no qualms in making an innocent party to this conflict. There is no plainer way to state it; looking to harm civilians in an attack such as nothing is nothing short of a war crime. Less than a day after this attack, the Houthi rebels tried to strike again, but this time the drone was intercepted by Saudi forces.
President Biden’s new envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, has a tough job to look forward to, as the hostilities continue to escalate. He had his maiden meeting with the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister on Wednesday, in which finding a political solution to the Yemen question was discussed.
But it is clear that conveying this message to the rebels will not be easy.It is clear that even with a reduced role, the US will continue to remain a partner of Saudi Arabia and will not ease up the pressure on the Houthi rebels. In the interest of peace, if the US does not want to take part in the conflict, it must still extend all political and logistical support to the Kingdom to ensure that its intentions are not misunderstood in Yemen. This would help in preserving the integrity of the coalition and safeguarding its aims.