The US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, confirmed, on Wednesday, that his country supports the defense of Saudi Arabia against all threats, while pushing for a political solution to end the conflict in Yemen.
This came, according to what was reported by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), following a meeting in the city of Neom, northwest of the kingdom, that brought together Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Sullivan, who is the most senior US official to visit the country since Joe Biden took office at the beginning of this year.
Saudi Arabia is the third stop Sullivan visits on an unspecified tour that started on Tuesday in the UAE and then Egypt on Wednesday.
During the meeting, which was attended by Tim Lenderking, the US envoy to Yemen, “Bin Salman” stressed the Saudi initiative on Yemen, which was issued last March and rejected by the right-wing Houthi movement, backed by Tehran, Riyadh’s rival.
Among the most prominent of the initiative’s contents is a ceasefire, under the supervision of the United Nations, and the start of political consultations.
Sullivan stressed the “full commitment of the United States to support Saudi Arabia’s defense of its territory against all threats, including missile and Iranian-backed drone attacks,” according to the agency.
This confirmation comes in light of news that Washington has withdrawn the Patriot missile defense systems from the Kingdom, as part of US efforts to focus on confronting China.
The Houthis used to launch ballistic missiles and drones at Saudi areas, in return for repeated announcements by the Arab coalition to thwart these attacks, while some of them left civilian casualties.
Since 2015, this coalition, led by the Saudi neighbor, has been carrying out military operations in Yemen, in support of government forces in the face of the Iranian-backed Houthis, who have controlled governorates, including the capital, Sanaa (north) since 2014.
Sullivan also confirmed Biden’s support for “the Kingdom’s goal of pushing for a lasting political solution and ending the Yemeni conflict, and the United States’ full support for these proposals and the efforts of the United Nations to reach a political solution to the crisis.”
The two officials called for “intensifying diplomatic efforts to reach that goal,” and stressed “the importance of the Houthis’ participation in good faith in negotiations with the legitimate government, under the supervision of the United Nations.”
For nearly 7 years, Yemen has been witnessing a war between pro-government forces and the Houthis, which has left more than 230,000 dead and 80 percent of its population, numbering about 30 million, has become dependent on aid, in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the United Nations.
Sullivan’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes after a visit to the kingdom that was scheduled to be made by US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, earlier this month, was canceled.
At the time, the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) attributed the cancellation of the visit to what it said were “scheduling problems”, days after news of the withdrawal of the “Patriot” defense systems from the kingdom.