PHOTO: Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian
Iran’s State media are indicating a possible shift in Tehran’s approach to Yemen’s civil war and aerial intervention by Saudi Arabia.
Press TV headlines that Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Monday for a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Yemen.
The Yemeni crisis escalated in February when the Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement took full control of the capital Sana’a, with President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi fleeing to the southern port city of Aden. Ansar Allah forces moved south, challenging Aden, while Hadi left the country for Riyadh.
In late March, a Saudi-led coalition began bombing of Ansar Allah and allied forces and facilities. Except for a brief cease-fire in mid-May, the attacks have been ongoing.
Iranian officials and State media have been unrelenting in criticism of the Saudis, going so far as to allege a conspiracy with the US and Israel — and even the Islamic State — to take over Yemen.
However, the Iranians backed away from a naval confrontation with the Saudis and the US over an attempt to send aid directly to Yemen, and Amir Abdollahian joined the OIC meeting — the first high-level visit by a Tehran official since March — even though it came at the request of Hadi’s deposed Government.
Significantly, the Minister made a direct reference to Riyadh last week as he confirmed his attendance, “The regional countries, including Saudi Arabia, can play a pivotal role in assisting peace, stability and security in the region.”
The OIC meeting is taking place after a failed attempt at talks this week in Geneva under UN auspices. At the last minute, Ansar Allah representatives balked at flying to Switzerland, and they were further delayed during a stopover in Djibouti in east Africa.
Yemen’s very existence hangs in the balance. While parties bicker, Yemen burns.
We don’t have a minute to lose. The ticking clock is not a timepiece it’s a ticking bomb.