Tensions flare as Iran calls for halt of Saudi strikes in Yemen

Published April 16th, 2015 - 06:12 GMT
In resource-scarce Yemen, the Saudi campaign's blockade on airspace and sea ports and strained significantly the flow of foodstuffs and medical supplies from entering the country, further escalating international concern for the humanitarian crisis unfolding amid the fighting. (AFP/File)
In resource-scarce Yemen, the Saudi campaign's blockade on airspace and sea ports and strained significantly the flow of foodstuffs and medical supplies from entering the country, further escalating international concern for the humanitarian crisis unfolding amid the fighting. (AFP/File)
Iran on Wednesday made a new call for Saudi Arabia to halt immediately an air campaign against rebels in Yemen amid escalating tensions between Tehran and Riyadh.

The latest call was made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, although earlier pleas were dismissed by Saudi Arabia, who has asked its regional rival, Iran, to stay out of the conflict in Yemen.

"If you really want stability in the region, you should listen to Iran ... that would be to your advantage," Rouhani told a gathering in the northern Iranian province of Gilan.

"Why do you bombard the oppressed in Yemen with aircraft offered by the United States? Why do you destroy infrastructures?" Rouhai added, according to the presidential portal.

Saudi Arabia and eight fellow Sunni Arab countries launched in late March an air campaign against Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, vowing not to stop until Yemen's internationally recognized President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi, a Sunni, is reinstated.

Saudis have repeatedly accused Shiite Iran of aiding the Houthis, who have taken over vast areas of Yemen that borders Saudi Arabia. Both Tehran and the Houthis have repeatedly denied the accusation.

The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions on the rebels' leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, drawing condemnation from the rebel movement.

Houthi Politburo member, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, said the Security Council should instead have condemned the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.

Al-Bukhaiti added that the Houthis would "never give in" to the UN's demand that they withdraw from captured territory, including the capital Sana'a.

"These resolutions will not deflect the Yemeni people from completing their revolution against terrorism and corruption," he said.

The movement has called for mass protests against the UN resolution, which was proposed by Arab states and supported by all members of the Security Council except Russia.

The resolution added al-Houthi to a sanctions list, which already includes two of the movement's military commanders as well as former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, any ally of the Houthis.

The resolution also sanctioned Saleh's son Ahmed Ali Saleh and imposed an arms embargo on all those subject to the sanctions.

Russia abstained in the voting, saying that any arms embargo should apply to all parties to the conflict.

Egypt meanwhile revealed proposals for what it said would be a "major strategic manoeuvre" on Saudi territory involving Egyptian, Saudi and other Gulf forces.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and Saudi Defence Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed to set up a committee to plan the manoeuvre when they met Tuesday in Cairo, al-Sissi's office said.

Egypt has contributed naval and air forces to the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis, but on Tuesday officially denied that its land forces were involved in the campaign.

On Wednesday, the UN food agency warned that conflict across Yemen was disrupting trade and "putting into further jeopardy the precarious food security of millions of Yemenis." 

Instability was putting the country's 2015 harvests at risk, the Food and Agriculture Organization said.

The organization said that almost 16 million people, some 60 per cent of Yemen's population, were now estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, with many "struggling to feed themselves and their families." 

Al-Bukhaiti charged that the Saudi air campaign was "targeting Yemen's infrastructure and its citizens and imposing a siege on the Yemeni people in order to starve them into submission."

Saudi and allied forces have blockaded Yemen's sea ports as well as closing its airspace, increasing the risk of shortages in a country that imports over 90 per cent of key foodstuffs.
 
 

© 2020 dpa GmbH

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