Ahead of next month’s Gulf country summit in Washington U.S. President Barack Obama urged Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to seek diplomatic solutions for the conflicts in Yemen and Libya.
The White House released a statement Friday reporting that Obama called Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to discuss the latest developments in Yemen.
King Salman told Obama that Saudi Arabia would comply with the U.N. Security Council’s resolution which placed an arms embargo on Iranian backed Shiite Houthi militias vying to take power in the country, while also blacklisting the group’s leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.
“The President and King Salman agreed that our collective goal is to achieve lasting stability in Yemen through a negotiated political solution facilitated by the United Nations and involving all parties as envisioned in the GCC Initiative,” the statement read.
Following a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi earlier in the day, Obama called on the Gulf countries to not "fan the flames of military conflict" in Libya.
His words came as ongoing peace talks aiming to unite the two parliamentary bodies which are vying for control of the country are continuing in Morocco.
"We're going to have to encourage some of the countries inside of the Gulf who have, I think, influence over the various factions inside of Libya to be more cooperative themselves," Obama told the press.
"In some cases, you've seen them fan the flames of military conflict, rather than try to reduce them."
The UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were thanked in a speech by Khalifa Haftar, the head of the Army of Libya’s rival House of Representatives (HoR) assembly, in December for supplying arms to the HoR while it undertakes military efforts to take power in the country.
Egypt and the UAE also took part in air strikes against Dawn Alliance forces loyal to the country’s central General National Council (GNC) administration.
However, more recently Saudi Arabia and Egypt have reduced their military backing of the HoR, throwing their support behind the U.N. brokered peace talks set on creating a unified Libyan government.
Haftar fails in second attempt to seize Tripoli
Obama’s statements came as Zintani forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar launched their second attempt to capture the Libyan capital.
The Zintan militia attacked the Tripoli suburb of of Tajoura, located 30 km east of the city, where they clashed with Dawn Alliance forces.
The militia reported heavy losses as as they were routed from the town.
A militia spokesperson told the French state AFP news agency that “Fourteen soldiers, four fighters from Fajr Libya, and three women were killed today in Tajoura,” and that an additional 24 militiamen were wounded in the clash.
Dawn Alliance spokesman Mohamad Shami reported that the capital’s forces killed 32 militiamen and that “Fajr Libya is in full control of Tajoura, and there are minor clashes near a camp called the 101 camp where some of the attackers are still there and Fajr Libya forces are surrounding them.”
A source close to Haftar also spoke to AFP reporting that the HoR had begun conducting air strikes on the town.
The HoR had attempted to seize Tripoli before in March during the first round of unity government talks in Morocco.
"The government salutes the operations launched by army units south of Tripoli which constitute the start of an offensive to liberate Tripoli and its suburbs," read a post on the HoR’s official Facebook page.
Haftar’s forces had briefly held the towns of Ouarchafana and al-Azizia located south of the capital.
The Dawn Alliance was slow to respond to the siege as forces that had been fighting ISIS militants in Sirte had to be relocated to defend the capital.
The HoR’s efforts ended in failure when Dawn forces recaptured the towns, announcing that the bulk of the Zintan militiamen besieging the capital had been taken captive.