Houthi leader tells Iran to 'stop exploiting' Yemen war

Houthi leader tells Iran to 'stop exploiting' Yemen war
A prominent leader of Houthi rebels in Yemen told Iranian officials to 'stop exploiting' Yemen's war, following reports that the warring sides are discussing a political settlement.
2 min read
11 March, 2016
Iran has denied giving material support to Houthi rebels in Yemen [Getty]
A top leader of Yemen's rebels issued a harsh rebuke of ally Iran on Thursday, calling on Tehran to back away from the crisis in Yemen.

Youssef al-Fishi, a top military commander of the Houthis, asked Iranian officials to "remain silent" and "stop exploiting" the Yemeni civil war for their own interests.

The remarks, posted on al-Fishi's Facebook page, underscore how the formerly firm Houthi-Tehran alliance may be faltering after a year-long Saudi-led air campaign targeting the rebels.

The violence has left Yemen's infrastructure in ruins, killed more than 6200, and forcibly displaced 2.4 million people.

They were made against a backdrop of a slight cooling in the conflict between the Houthis and Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia, which recently negotiated a prisoner exchange with the rebels.

The rebuke came a day after Iranian deputy chief of staff Gen. Masoud Jazayer was quoted by Iran's Tasnim news agency as saying that the Islamic Republic is ready to help Yemeni people "in any possible level."

The comment was in response to a question about whether Iran is ready to send military advisors to Yemen as it did in Syria.

A report by the United Nations panel of experts on Yemen released in February and obtained by The Associated Press said that the panel is investigating the alleged transfer of anti-tank guided missiles from Iran to the Houthis.

It said that it had inspected the weapons in question and they resembled those seen in the media in Houthi possession in August.

Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday it has carried out a prisoners' exchange for the first time with Yemeni tribes, releasing seven Yemenis in exchange for one Saudi soldier.

The swap raised hopes that Saudis and Houthis are working toward a political settlement after informal talks were held in Oman.

Saudi-led coalition spokesman Brigadir General Ahmed al-Asiri said Wednesday they had held talks with tribal figures who are serving as mediators, but the Saudis were not talking directly with the Houthis.

A growing dispute between Riyadh and Tehran, which severed diplomatic ties between them in January, has harmed the prospects of a peace deal in Yemen.

More than 6,000 people have been killed, about half of them civilians, since the start of the Saudi-led intervention a year ago.