Houthis' new coin reveals economic pressures on rebels, says US envoy

Tim Lenderking said Red Sea attacks should stop to focus on Yemen's peace process

Tim Lenderking, the US envoy to Yemen, said Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping have stopped humanitarian supplies from reaching the Yemeni people. Reuters
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The creation of a new coin by Yemen's Houthi rebels is a sign the group is suffering financial pressure as it carries out attacks on Red Sea shipping, a top US official said on Wednesday.

Tim Lenderking, the US envoy to Yemen, said the move “shows economic pressure that the Houthis are facing”.

He told a press conference that Houthi attacks on vessels in the key waterway were putting international shipping under pressure and harming the economy of Yemen and the wider region.

Yemen’s economy is split into two areas, one held by the internationally recognised government in the southern city of Aden and the other in Sanaa, controlled by the Iran-backed rebels.

On Sunday, the Houthis announced the production of a 100-riyal coin to replace damaged 100-riyal banknotes issued by the Sanaa-based central bank.

The central bank in Aden described the move as escalatory and the currency as “illegal”.

“The Houthi militia will be held accountable for this irresponsible escalation, as well as the resulting complexity and uncertainty in people’s transactions with financial and banking institutions,” it said in a statement.

The group began firing drones and missiles towards Israel in response to the war in Gaza, which started last October and has killed about 33,000 Palestinians.

The Houthis have also launched dozens of missile and drone attacks on international commercial ships they believe are linked to or bound for Israel.

The rebels have vowed to continue the attacks as long as Israel's bombardment of Gaza continues.

The attacks on the Red Sea vessels have “seen a reduction of 15 per cent in ships that are being able to dock at Hodeidah port”, Mr Lenderking said.

“These actions have obstructed humanitarian supplies in reaching the Yemeni people. That’s why we say these attacks are misplaced and reckless and indiscriminate,” he added.

Mr Lenderking said the move shows “economic pressure felt by the Houthis as there is a liquidity crisis in Yemen,” emphasising the urgent need for economic stability for all Yemenis.

“We need to make this push towards the Yemen peace effort, which will help the humanitarian peace situation and Yemenis rebuild their economy,” he said.

Yemen's peace process

Mr Lenderking also spoke about the role that the international community should play in trying to get Yemen's warring sides to the negotiating table.

“Houthi attacks on the Red Sea must stop so we can focus on Yemen’s peace efforts and reclosing the Gaza war. It has endangered the lives of civilians and harmed the marine environment,” he said.

Yemen has been gripped with conflict since the Houthis took control of Sanaa in 2014, triggering a Saudi-led military intervention in support of the government forces the following year.

Mr Lenderking said the Houthis are feeling the international pressure and reiterated the need for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

There is no military solution to the war, he said, only through diplomacy will all sides to the conflict find a solution.

“We know there is no military solution and we are joined by all members of the UN P5 [permanent members], there is a strong consensus that supports the peace efforts going forward, we want to see a de-escalation in the region to go beyond the Red Sea attacks to focus on the peace process,” he said.

Updated: April 03, 2024, 11:05 PM