An armed man gestures as he stands on the rubble of houses destroyed by an airstrike near Sanaa Airport in Yemen, March 26, 2015.
Khaled Abdullah | Reuters
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will announce on Thursday the end of U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen and name a new envoy to oversee the nation’s diplomatic mission to end the civil war there.
However, Biden’s policy will not extend to offensive operations taken by the U.S. against Al Qaeda’s affiliate in the region, known as AQAP.
“It does not extend to actions against AQAP, which are actions we undertake in service of protecting the homeland and protecting American interests in the region and allies and partners,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters at a White House press briefing on Thursday.
“It extends to the types of offensive operations that have perpetuated a civil war in Yemen that has led to a humanitarian crisis,” Sullivan explained.
Biden will tap Tim Lenderking, deputy assistant secretary of State for Iran, Iraq, and regional affairs, to oversee the U.S. diplomatic mission in Yemen, a person familiar with the decision told NBC News.
Biden’s announcement will come as part of a larger foreign policy speech he is slated to make later on Thursday at the State Department alongside America’s top diplomat Antony Blinken.
“He will talk about the United States playing a more active and engaged role in the diplomacy to bring an end to conflict in Yemen and that will include the naming of a special envoy,” Sullivan said.
The U.S. has informed Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of its decision, Sullivan said. Since March 2015, the Saudis and the UAE have carried out attacks in Yemen against Houthi forces.
The Houthis are allies of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and took over Yemen’s capital in 2014, escalating tensions and precipitating Saudi and UAE intervention. The U.S. accuses the Houthis of receiving support from Iran.
The United Nations has previously said that the ongoing armed conflict in Yemen has produced the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. The U.S. has provided more than $630 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen in fiscal year 2020, according to figures provided by the State department.