President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the U.S. would no longer support the Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen, a six-year conflict that’s been widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“This war has to end. And to underscore our commitment, we're ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.”
In 2015, a Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen by arming government forces against Iran-aligned Houthi rebel fighters.
In his remarks, Biden added the conflict has created a humanitarian “catastrophe," one the United Nations says is the world’s biggest, with millions of Yemen’s people on the verge of large-scale famine.
Biden on Thursday also named U.S. diplomat Timothy Lenderking as the country’s special envoy for Yemen in a bid to step up American diplomacy and end the war there.
“I have asked my Middle East team to ensure our support for the United Nations let initiative to impose a cease-fire, open humanitarian challenges, and restore long dormant peace talks.”
Biden’s move reverses policies from both the Obama and Trump administrations.
Trump's policy was focused on forcing Iran back into talks over its nuclear program, and maintaining close ties with Saudi Arabia, including U.S. arms sales.
That was despite demands by Republican and Democratic lawmakers for an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia as the humanitarian crisis in Yemen worsened, but Biden said the U.S. will continue to help Saudi Arabia defend against Iranian-supplied forces in the region.
Saudi Arabia welcomed those commitments, according to its state-run news agency.