Iran’s former envoy to the UN says the problem of Yemen’s Houthis is that they do not have any representatives at international organizations while controlling the Yemeni government.
Ali Khorram, who is also a senior political analyst, says although Iran is introduced as the Houthis’ supporter at international levels, the fact is that the Islamic Republic’s role in Yemen is very limited.
“The only way for the Houthis is to have a representative who can simultaneously negotiate for them at the international level while they are involved in the war,” he added.
Speaking in a Farsi interview with Jamaran news website, Khorram took a brief look at the history of the contemporary Yemen, and said, “Almost 70 or 80 years ago the country was governed under the rule of Islam with the leadership of a person that people called him Imam. When King Abdulaziz came to power in Saudi Arabia, he attacked Yemen and overthrew its government to take it over.”
“However, as a result of the anti-Saudi developments, whose one division was under the influence of socialists and Marxists, Yemen was divided into two parts, North and South. After this, Ali Nasir Muhammad, became the leader of South Yemen, and Ali Abdullah Saleh, as a person close to Saudi Arabia, became the president of the North.”
He went on to say that this was the situation until Ali Nasir Muhammad left the country and fled to Syria following Saudi interference in Yemen about 20 years ago. Subsequently, Ali Abdullah Saleh called the north and south Yemen one country, and the geographical boundaries of Yemen once again returned to the era before the division.
Khorram noted that since then, Yemen was almost entirely under the control of Saudi Arabia, and was paying the majority of Yemen’s expenses including the salary of the military and the civil servants.
“This situation continued until the Arab Spring. As Saudis were afraid of these movements, they decided to replace Ali Abdullah Saleh with a new figure before the revolution starts and a person from abroad takes power in Yemen. Therefore, Abdullah Saleh was removed from office and Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi succeeded him,” added Khorram.
“Yemen has a tribal structure and some formulas cannot be used in this country. For this reason, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who somehow considered himself the owner of a united Yemen, felt down by Saudi Arabia’s move.”
“The coincidence of this with the Houthi moves made Saleh unite with the Houthis along with the Yemeni army to take revenge on Saudi Arabia. The army was under the control of Saleh, and this gave the two Yemeni groups greater power.”
“After this, tensions mounted inside Yemen between the supporters of Mansour Hadi, who was backed by Saudi Arabia, and the two other groups. Therefore, Saudi Arabia waged a war against Yemen. This war has lasted for about 3 years, and Saudi Arabia has repeatedly bombarded Yemen during this period. However, while Riyadh considers Yemen as its backyard, it has never been able to find allies for itself inside Yemen and among the tribal groups,” pointed out Khorram.
He also noted that “as Saudi Arabia realized the bombardments do not work, it decided to break Ali Abdullah Saleh’s alliance with the Houthis. Finally, in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates, Saudis separated Saleh from Houthis last weekend. This led to a clash between Yemeni forces under the command of Abdullah Saleh and the Houthis. At first, the army attacked the Houthi positions and almost defeated them, but suddenly, the Houthis returned to Sana’a and stopped the army. During these clashes, Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed when he was escaping from the city.”
As Khorram said, this is the story in Yemen, but at the moment Yemen is not just this.
“Along with economic crisis and famine, al-Qaeda and other groups are present in Yemen. In this regard, the more the tensions escalate between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia, the more powerful al-Qaeda becomes. This makes Yemen’s events more sensitive.”
“In my opinion, the Houthis should seek a political solution at the same time as they continue the war. But the problem is that they have no representatives at international organizations. Although Iran is introduced as their supporter at international levels, the fact is that the Islamic Republic’s role in Yemen is very limited.”
“Anyhow, a country or some people should represent the Houthis at international assemblies to pursue their policies. The ground warfare is not enough, and some of the problems must be resolved with political solutions that the Houthis have little to do. There is a danger that the Houthi efforts will be to the interest of al-Qaeda,” Khorram went on to say.
He said, “I think we should look at this issue from this angle. If Iran cannot represent the Houthis directly, it should find a country to represent the Houthis internationally.”
In response to a question about the fate of the Yemeni army after the killing of Ali Abdullah Saleh, he said, “The Yemeni army was previously under the command of Ali Abdullah Saleh, but now that he has been killed, part of the army will be dispersed and most of it will be absorbed by Saudi Arabia. As the military cannot be under the control of the militia, there is a danger that the Houthis’ power will be less than the past.”
“It is possible that the Houthis would gain more independence after the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh, but they will definitely lose part of the army. Nevertheless, the army will not have the power to overcome the Houthis on its own; unless the Arab coalition army deploy ground troops to help the Yemeni army. In this way, the situation for the Houthis will be dangerous. The only way out for the Houthis is to have a representative who can negotiate for them at the same time that the war is going on,” he concluded.