Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi has expressed hope that the UN would be able to play its key role in establishing peace in Yemen while remaining unaffected by different pressures.
Qassemi made the remarks in an interview with the Al-Alam News Network, where he elaborated on the recent Yemen peace talks held in Sweden.
During the interview, he also praised the Ansarullah movement for making its presence felt as a party to Yemen peace talks in Stockholm.
The full text of the interview follows.
Al-Alam: What score do you give to Ansarullah in Yemen peace negotiations?
Qassemi: We should give a good score to Yemeni people and the Resistance [front] and their resistance against the aggression launched against them. The Ansarullah movement will definitely get a high score. The guidance by this movement and its resistance brought about results which led to the Stockholm meeting. This group managed to present itself as the main party to Stockholm talks, which is a great victory for the movement itself as well as for the people of Yemen.
Al-Alam: Iran and Ansarullah have always emphasized that a political solution is needed to resolve the Yemen crisis, but the Saudi-led coalition insisted that a military solution is needed. Why do you think they insisted on a military solution, and how come they finally accepted a political solution?
Qassemi: I believe the Saudi-led coalition forces had a kind of unwarranted illusion and believed they would be able to achieve their goals through attacking Yemen. They had a big strategic mistake in mind; so, they launched their operation and had no proper understanding of the realities behind the occupation of Yemen as well as the aggression against the country and Yemen’s history. Their behaviour showed they were not well aware of the contemporary and past history, and they easily launched their aggression. From the outset, those who had a better understanding of the region and knew about the outcome of occupation and aggression believed the war on Yemen would get nowhere. They were of the conviction that the Yemeni nation would wholeheartedly defend its interests and dignity and history even under the toughest circumstances and would tolerate all hardships but would not succumb to humiliation. Therefore, it was clear to us that a military solution would be a nonstarter in Yemen, and no matter how much time would elapse, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as other forces providing arms support and contributing to the creation of large arsenals would face defeat at the end of the day. And today, we have come to a point where the parties to the conflict should sit at the negotiating table and think about the future through political solutions.
Al-Alam: During the talks, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were trying to attack the port city of Hudaydah. How do you evaluate such behaviour during the time the negotiations were underway?
Qassemi: For quite some time, Saudi Arabia had been frustrated in the face of the Yemeni nation’s will and resistance and showed its grudge and anger by bombarding civilian centres such as schools and hospitals. Events did not unfold as Riyadh expected, and resistance continued, and popular resistance forces as well as Yemeni people and the Ansarullah movement pressed ahead their resistance against the aggressors that were equipped by different types of modern weapons and enjoyed the support of some countries in the region and beyond. So, on the one hand, the Saudi-led coalition was moving towards a maniacal military move, and on the other, it seemed that the extent of this human disaster touched the international community and triggered a new movement against this aggression. Therefore, Riyadh was facing more and more problems, hardships and dangers with regards to Yemen day by day. As a result, Saudi Arabia and its backers needed to tackle that scourge one way or another. This came as the resistance front had not only not weakened, but also was gaining more strength and moving towards a higher status with regards to military resistance, winning support worldwide, and sending the message of Yemeni people’s innocence.
Al-Alam: Recently, the United States gave Saudi Arabia a month to hold he talks. Why do you think Washington openly intervened in this issue, and how did it influence the outcome of the talks?
Qassemi: The situation of Yemen and the humanitarian disaster which happened there and aggravated situation in the country day by day plus the voice of the innocent people in a world where communications have a high status, especially with the high rate at which information is exchanged, finally drew the attention of the international community to a serious crisis, which could probably be regarded as a crisis and disaster of the current century. Such circumstances brought about a situation not only for Saudi Arabia, but also for its supporters, where they felt it was not the right time to sustain the situation. Hence, even ostensibly, they needed to put on a new mask and paint a fresh image of themselves to pretend that even they themselves did not approve of the situation. If the situation continued, it could undermine the credibility of US rulers and lead to more scandals for the White House.
Al-Alam: Yemen peace talks with the Ansarullah movement held in Sweden, in fact, amounted to the recognition of the negotiations by the international community. This came as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had been reluctant to hold talks with Ansarullah until then. How do you see that?
Qassemi: It was prudent of Ansarullah to be able to impose its position on the aggressors through its own resistance as well as that of Yemeni people. Securing such a status is indicative of the power of Yemeni people’s resistance against aggression. Nations which are willing to resist aggression and occupation are able to achieve victory and upgrade their status, at last. Ansarullah and Yemeni people are a clear example of this. We can see in the contemporary history of other countries that the movements which insist on their stances and put up with hardships will, at last, be able to edge closer to securing their rights despite all the injustice and discrimination which might exist on the international stage. By putting up a stiff resistance against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and occupying forces, Ansarullah managed to present itself as an equal party to the peace talks held in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, and to attend the negotiations as the representative of Yemeni people.
Al-Alam: In the Sweden talks, parties to the negotiations strongly insisted on the issue of Hudaydah and postponed the issue of Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, to the future. What’s your analysis of this development?
Qassemi: Hudaydah and its port enjoy a strategic situation, and that’s why the occupiers tried a lot and allocated so much funds in recent months to fully occupy this city and its port, but to no avail. It was due to the importance of this region that it was necessary during the first round of negotiations to announce a clear solution and approach, so that the issue might be followed up in the following consultative meeting slated to be held in Kuwait in January. On the other hand, maybe, at this juncture, the issue of Yemen was not an issue for which one single solution could be offered. So, the focus on the issue of Hudaydah during the Stockholm talks could be seen as a step-by-step policy.
Al-Alam: During the 4-year war on Yemen, it has been said that the conflict is a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Is this true?
Qassemi: This is a big lie put forward by anti-Iran elements as well as the Saudi-led coalition and the United States. Iran has had no military role and presence in Yemen as the Arab country was under total blockade and there was no connection between Iran and Yemeni groups. In fact, Yemeni troops are using weapons that had been bought with Saudi money in the past for the former puppet government of Yemen.
The claim that the Yemen conflict was a proxy war is a big lie told by the Saudis.
We only lent mental support to Yemen because of the oppression it suffered. Iran has given no arms and military support to Yemeni forces. Talk of a proxy war was a sheer and blatant lie told by the Saudi-led coalition.
Al-Alam: How do you evaluate the future of talks between the Ansarullah movement and the ousted government?
Qassemi: The solution that we have always believed in has been an end to the aggression on Yemeni people and allowing Yemenis to achieve their objectives through dialogue. Today, these talks have got underway in Sweden, and we hope this trend will result in an end to the aggression while safeguarding Yemenis’ rights. Yemeni people can achieve their goals in intra-Yemeni talks and take steps towards the reconstruction of this country, as much of Yemen’s infrastructure has been destroyed by aggressors.
Al-Alam: Saudi-Emirati media have launched a negative propaganda campaign against Ansarullah and Hudaydah, and say the Ansarullah movement is looting and destroying this port. And they could announce in the future that Ansarullah has violated the ceasefire! What is the purpose of this propaganda?
Qassemi: It is natural that a country which easily commits crimes and slaughters Yemeni people could level such accusations against Ansarullah, and the Riyadh government is likely to make such nonsense comments. If the negotiations in Sweden receive more support from the United Nations and are attended by international observers in Yemen, such blame games could be prevented to some extent, and given the media and international communications, the aggressors will suffer another defeat if they want to make another mistake.
Al-Alam: How do you see the future of Yemen?
The beginning of the negotiations in Sweden was a major event, and the presence of Ansarullah as a party to the talks is very significant, too. We hope the UN will be able to play its key role in establishing peace while remaining unaffected by different pressures.
Poverty and human disasters in Yemen are the fallout of the Saudi aggression. A global movement is needed to rebuild Yemen and move towards improving Yemeni people’s living standards. It is a duty of the international community as well as regional and Muslim countries to step in that direction to make up for the existing silence in the face of these atrocities.