x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Yemen 'rejects outside interference'

Sana'a says it can tackle its own problems, but ruling party's website calls Iran's comments evidence of Tehran's support for al Houthi rebels

SANA'A // Yemen yesterday rejected outside interference in its internal affairs, agreeing with Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, who in comments this week warned against intervention in Yemeni affairs and called for regional co-operation.

"As we welcome what Mr Mottaki said about Iran's stance towards Yemen's stability and unity, Yemen affirms that it absolutely rejects any intervention in its internal affairs," an unnamed foreign ministry official said in a statement. The statement said the fight between the government and the al Houthi rebels was an internal issue and that Yemen was able to tackle its own problems without any interference or mediation from others. "The state has got no [prejudicial] stand towards the Shia, which it respects like any other Muslim faith. The confrontation with the terrorist elements in Sa'ada has got no sectarian ground - This [al Houthi group] is an outlawed and rebellious group that is working to [undermine] security and stability in Yemen and the region at large," the statement said.

"This stand is a part of the constant support of the Gulf States to Yemen's unity, security and stability for they all understand that Yemen is the strategic bottom of the Gulf States and thus protecting its stability is important for the security of the GCC at large." The statement came as a response to comments in which Mr Mottaki called on regional states not to interfere in Yemeni affairs, following reports that Saudi planes were bombing northern parts of the country.

"We strongly advise regional and neighbouring states not to interfere in Yemen's internal affairs and try to restore peace and stability to the state. Stability in Yemen will contribute to regional stability," Mr Mottaki said on Tuesday. "Instability in Yemen, in Iraq, in Afghanistan or in Pakistan will leave its impact on the whole region ... those who choose to fuel the flames of conflict must know that the fire will reach them," he added.

"Providing extremists and terrorists with money and weapons and conducting oppressive actions and military attacks against civilians will have negative consequences. What we are trying to do is to help restore peace and stability to regional countries." Yemen has repeatedly accused Iran of supporting the rebels, and in October announced it had captured five Iranians attempting to smuggle a boatload of weapons to them, but no hard evidence was provided.

Mr Mottaki's statement, according to the al Motamar website of the Yemen's ruling People's General Congress, is clear evidence of Tehran involvement in this conflict and its support to the rebels. "The statement of the Iranian foreign minister proves the Iranian support to al Houthi gang - it is also evidence of Iran's direct involvement in backing the al Houthis infiltration into Saudi [territories] in an attempt to give a regional dimension to the war the Yemen army is waging on the rebel gang in Sa'ada," the website reported yesterday.

Yemen has signed an agreement with the United States for co-operation on military intelligence and training, its official news agency reported yesterday. The two countries signed the agreement in Sana'a on Tuesday after two days of talks, the second round of such negotiations, Saba news agency reported. The deal aims to strengthen co-operation in the "extermination of terrorism, smuggling and piracy," Saba quoted Yemen's chief of staff Ahmed Ali al Ashwal, as saying.