Iran suggests Saudi hindered efforts to save top diplomat to Yemen who died of Covid-19

Iran suggests Saudi hindered efforts to save top diplomat to Yemen who died of Covid-19
An Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said 'delayed cooperation' prevented the ambassador from being evacuated early enough to receive urgent treatment, a claim that appeared directed at rival Saudi Arabia.
2 min read
22 December, 2021
Hassan Eyrlo passed away on Tuesday, days after contracting Covid-19 [Getty]

Iran has suggested that Saudi Arabia may have blocked efforts to save its ambassador to Yemen who died after contracting Covid-19 while posted to the Houthi-held capital Sanaa.

The ambassador to Sanaa, Hassan Eyrlo, died Tuesday after contracting the virus while in Yemen, Tehran said.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told state media Tuesday that Eyrlo "was evacuated in poor condition due to delayed cooperation from certain countries”, preventing him from receiving urgent treatment.

The spokesperson did not explicitly name Saudi Arabia, which has been fighting against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015. However, Saudi Arabia controls the airspace around Sanaa.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen rejected Khatibzadeh's claims, saying on Wednesday that they helped get the ambassador out of the country before he died.

Live Story

The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that Saudi Arabia said there had been no signs the ambassador was seriously ill, and that Riyadh had asked the Houthis to release some Saudis in their detention in exchange for allowing Eyrlo to leave the country.

Houthi rebels ousted the Yemeni government from Sanaa in 2014, prompting the Saudi-led coalition's intervention in the conflict in favour of the internationally-recognised administration.

The conflict, often seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has led to a military stalemate for years and will have claimed over 377,000 lives by the end of the year, according to the UN.