Iran 'part of the problem' in Yemen: top diplomat

Iran 'part of the problem' in Yemen: top diplomat
Iran, accused of supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen, "is part of the problem, not the solution" when it comes to ending conflict Yemen's top diplomat said on Monday.

3 min read
22 August, 2017
The comments were made by Yemen's foreign minister [Getty]
Iran "is part of the problem, not the solution" when it comes to ending conflict in the war-torn nation, Yemen's top diplomat said on Monday.

Tehran, which has been extensively accused of supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen is the "cause of the problem,” Foreign Minister Abdulmalik al-Mekhlafi said.

"Iran continues to support the Houthis, Iranian arms are smuggled. Iran is part of the problem, not the solution," Mekhlafi said when asked if Tehran could contribute to a political solution in Yemen. 

He was speaking at UN headquarters after a major luncheon hosted by Yemen and Saudi Arabia with the majority of diplomatic missions to the United Nations. 

The sentiment was echoed by the Saudi ambassador to the United Nations, Abdallah al-Mouallimi who said, "Iran has no role to play in the region."

Meanwhile, more than 10,000 people have been killed and 44,000 wounded since the Saudi-led coalition intervened militarily in support of the internationally-recognised government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in March 2015.

In a new UN draft report, the organisation blamed the Saudi-led military coalition waging war for the killing of hundreds of children in the war-torn country.

The report claims 51 percent of all child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year were the result of military operations by the coalition, describing the death toll as "unacceptably high".

"Attacks carried out by air caused over half of all child casualties, with at least 349 killed and 333 injured," said the report, which was obtained by Reuters.

"The United Nations was informed of measures taken by the coalition in 2016 to reduce the impact of conflict on children. However, despite these measures, grave violations against children continued at unacceptably high levels in 2016."

Despite the mounting death toll, Saudi Arabia has maintained it is working within the frameworks of international law, and its UN mission said there "no justification whatsoever" for including the coalition's name on the blacklist.

'Triple tragedy'

The Saudi-led military coalition largely controls the country's airspace, although US drones also carry out strikes on suspected al-Qaeda bases there.

"In 2017, the number of airstrikes per month is three times higher than last year, and monthly reports of armed clashes are up by more than 50 percent," Stephen O'Brien, the under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs after calling for all parties involved in the conflict to open sea, land and airports in the country.

"Today, millions of people in Yemen are facing a triple tragedy: the specter of famine, the world's largest ever single-year cholera outbreak, and the daily deprivation and injustice of a brutal conflict that the world is allowing to drag on and on," he said on Friday.

Close to 2,000 Yemenis have also died of cholera since April and another 600,000 are expected to contract the infection this year. 

Agencies contributed to this report.