President Joe Biden promised to end the conflict in Yemen. To this end, he quickly reversed an ill-conceived Trump administration move to designate the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization and appointed Tim Lenderking, a seasoned diplomat well-versed on the Yemen issue, as special envoy charged with supporting U.N. negotiations. Five months later, though, negotiations are going nowhere.
Houthis were seeking to forcibly impose their radical ideology that was widely contested by Yemenis. Despite their participation in the National Dialogue Conference, which explicitly worked to address Houthi grievances, they refused to accept the outcomes of the conference, launching, instead, the assault on the government that is the basis of today’s conflict.
The Biden administration should make clear to the Houthis that the international community will not accept them as Yemen’s de facto government or even the legitimate rulers of a rump North Yemen.