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Former Iran ambassador: Saudis must accept Houthis

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Seyed Ali Asghar Ghoreishi, former Iranian ambassador to Yemen, discussed the nature of Iran's support for the Houthis, elements necessary to end the fighting in Yemen and the possibility of extremist groups seizing large sections of territory in Yemen.
A fighter from the Southern Popular Resistance mans a machine gun at the front line of fighting against Houthi fighters, on the outskirts of Yemen's southern port city of Aden June 6, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer


A coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia launched on March 26 Operation Decisive Storm, a military campaign in Yemen against Ansar Allah, a Zaydi (Shiite) Muslim rebel group commonly referred to as the Houthis. The coalition's goal was to restore to power former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who had resigned on Jan. 22, just days after he and the Houthi had reached a power-sharing deal following their seizure of the presidential palace. Hadi is currently in exile in Saudi Arabia, while the Houthis, backed by forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, continue to fight various forces in Yemen, some of them aligned with Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have accused Iran, its regional rival, of backing the Houthis.

In a phone interview, Seyed Ali Asghar Ghoreishi, former Iranian ambassador to Yemen, told Al-Monitor that Iran’s support of the Houthis has not been military. He believes that accepting the reality of Ansar Allah’s emergence and acknowledging the “suppressed demands of the Zaydis” is crucial to any hope of resolving the Yemeni crisis. A UN-sponsored meeting is scheduled for June 14 to discuss an end to the fighting, which has led to a humanitarian crisis.

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