The Biden administration is naming a longtime U.S. diplomat for the Middle East as its special envoy in Yemen, as it seeks a diplomatic end to a grinding five-year-war that has deepened humanitarian suffering in the Arabian peninsula’s poorest country.
President Joe Biden was expected to announce the choice of Timothy Lenderking as soon as Thursday afternoon, when Biden is due to speak at the State Department. A person familiar with the matter confirmed the selection, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement.
The Gulf-based newspaper The National first reported the pick.
Lenderking has been a deputy assistant secretary of state in the agency’s Middle East section. A career foreign service member, he has served in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other countries inside and out of the Middle East.
Biden has said he plans to pull U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. Saudi Arabia launched the offensive in 2015 to counter a Yemeni Houthi faction that had seized territory in Yemen and was launching cross-border missiles at Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi-led air campaign since then has killed numerous civilians. The conflict has deepened hunger and poverty in Yemen, and international rights experts say both the Gulf countries and Houthis have committed severe rights abuses.
The Biden administration says it will use diplomacy to try to end the overall war in Yemen.