Iran must stop backing Yemen rebels
14 April, 2015, 12:00 am
SANAA – Riyadh has demanded Tehran to stop backing Shi’ite rebels in Yemen, as Saudi-led warplanes launch fresh strikes on rebel forces.
In the third week of the air strikes mounted by Saudi Arabia and its allies, the International Organisation for Migration said it flew a first plane-load of 143 foreigners out of Yemen.
At a gathering in Doha, Qatar, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon meanwhile appealed for the resumption of Yemeni peace talks and for “a cessation of military moves as soon as possible”.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius voiced support for Saudi efforts, saying in Riyadh that his country “has expressed its readiness to find a solution” for Yemen.
Saudi Arabia heads a coalition of nine Arab countries which since March 26 has carried out air strikes against the Huthi Shi’ite rebels who overran Sanaa in September.
Riyadh feared the rebels would take over the entire country and move it into the orbit of Shi’ite Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal urged Tehran not to “assist the criminal activities” of the Huthis “against the legitimate order of Yemen and (to) stop the delivery of weapons and aid” to the rebels.
But he insisted “we are not at war with Iran,” which denies arming the rebels and whose supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has described the coalition’s involvement as “criminal”.
The rebels include forces who have remained loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh after he was forced from power in 2012 following a year of nationwide protests against his three-decade rule.
The anti-government forces have been locked in battles against forces loyal to fugitive President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.