Biden will announce finish of U.S. help for offensive operations in Yemen

An armed man gestures as he stands on the rubble of houses destroyed in an air strike near Sanaa Airport in Yemen on March 26, 2015.

Khaled Abdullah | Reuters

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will announce the end of US support for offensive operations in Yemen on Thursday and will appoint a new envoy to oversee the nation’s diplomatic mission to end the civil war there.

Biden’s policies, however, will not extend to US offensive operations against Al Qaida’s subsidiary in the region known as AQAP.

“It does not include actions against AQAP that we are taking to protect the homeland and American interests in the region, as well as our allies and partners,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters at a White House press conference Thursday.

“It extends to the types of offensive operations that perpetuated a civil war in Yemen that turned into a humanitarian crisis,” Sullivan said.

Biden’s announcement will be part of a larger foreign policy speech that he will give later on Thursday at the US State Department with top American diplomat Antony Blinken.

“He will talk about the United States playing a more active and committed role in diplomacy to end the conflict in Yemen, and that includes appointing a special envoy,” said Sullivan.

The US has informed Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of its decision, Sullivan said. The Saudis and the UAE have been carrying out attacks against Houthi forces in Yemen since March 2015.

Allies of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Houthis took over the capital of Yemen in 2014, escalating tensions and accelerating intervention in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The US accuses the Houthis of receiving support from Iran.

The United Nations previously said that the ongoing armed conflict in Yemen has caused the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. The U.S. provided more than $ 630 million in humanitarian aid to Yemen in fiscal 2020, according to the State Department.

Biden will also speak to Tim Lenderking, deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran, Iraq and Regional Affairs, to oversee the US diplomatic mission in Yemen, a person familiar with the decision told NBC News.

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