Yemen FM to Asharq Al-Awsat: Houthis Must Not Bank on Iran because it is Collapsing

Yemen FM to Asharq Al-Awsat: Houthis Must Not Bank on Iran because it is Collapsing

Saturday, 26 May, 2018 - 07:45
New Yemeni Foreign Minister Khalid al-Yamani. (Getty Images)
London - Badr al-Qahtani
Telephone calls poured in on Wednesday to congratulate Yemen’s permanent Ambassador to the United Nations Khalid al-Yamani on his appointment as foreign minister. He received the news while he was having a break-fast meal hosted by the ambassador of Oman.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that he was taken by surprise by the news, revealing that he was not informed of it beforehand.

“I had heard some discussions over the issue, but I did not imagine that it would take place in such a short time,” he remarked.

Yamani, 58, will now head to the Saudi capital Riyadh on Monday to be sworn in before President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. He will officially assume his duties on Tuesday, succeeding Dr. Abdulmalek al-Mekhlafi, Hadi’s current aide.

His main task will be to underline to the world and permanent members of the UN Security Council the severity of the “Iranian-Houthi nightmare that is plaguing Yemen.”

“Now in its fourth year, I believe that Yemen has truly been destroyed by these militias. This demands us all as Yemenis and brothers to take steps that would end the crisis and war and defeat this Iranian project in Yemen,” he declared.

No negotiations before disarmament

Yamani told Asharq Al-Awsat that he will primarily focus on the “main cause”, which are the negotiations and efforts exerted by UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths.

“We are working around the clock with his office to allow him to present his ideas on June 7 after holding consultations with the Yemeni government,” he added.

“We cannot, however, discuss any political arrangements before the Houthis lay down their rockets and heavy and medium weapons,” stressed Yamani. “The coup must end.”

“The weapons that are assaulting the Yemeni people and infrastructure and Saudi territories and civilian infrastructure must be laid down. This issue is not up for negotiation or dialogue,” he continued.

The militias must also withdraw from regions they have occupied. Political discussions will take their course as soon as this happens, he explained.

Restoring diplomatic capabilities

“In addition to the negotiations file, my priorities will also be the affairs of the foreign ministry,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He said that after taking the oath before Hadi, he will head to the ministry headquarters to meet its officials and “discuss what we can do together.”

“There can be no one-man show, but a team must complete the mission,” Yamani stressed.

He believed that the foreign ministry was “wronged” during the Yemeni crisis and war.

He noted that it boasted good capabilities and “we hope to regain them and restore respect to diplomacy and its institutions so that they can complement the military operations on the field.”

Iran and the provocations

Yamani sent an indirect message to the Houthis, saying they were banking on Iran to achieve their goals.

“Iran today is coming under international pressure, led by the United States. This terrorist regime, which is arming terrorist militias around the world, is close to collapse due to international pressure,” he continued.

“It is also coming under pressure from the Iranian people, who have suffered at the hands of their terrorist state that is spending billions here and there to achieve its insane expansionist agenda,” he added.

“A civilized world that respects international law cannot accept the presence of a state-sponsor of terrorism and sponsor of all terrorist and disruptive militias in the region,” he declared.

“If Iran wants to become part of our region’s social, cultural and political fabric, then it must tame its behavior,” Yamani remarked.

On this note, Asharq Al-Awsat highlighted his recent retort against Iran’s ambassador to the UN, in which he feigned concern over Yemen.

“He provoked me because he spoke of defending the people as if they were not the ones sending destruction in Yemen,” he said.

“Do you know that the majority of mines that the Houthis are planting have Iranian tags? Even if we achieve peace today, we will need dozens of years to remove them. There can be no living in regions that are littered with mines that are a product of a mentality of death, which is controlled by Iran in the region,” Yamani added.

Rebuilding the Yemeni spirit

He hailed the Saudi-led Arab coalition for its military, humanitarian and development efforts in Yemen, saying it is helping “rebuild the Yemeni spirit that was destroyed by the Houthis.”

“The president and government are working towards peace. We carry the message of life with our partners in the coalition,” he continued.

He praised, on this note, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other member-states of the alliance for their humanitarian operations that are aimed at reviving the people’s spirit that was destroyed by the Houthis.

“They are spreading good throughout Yemen and rebuilding what the Houthis have destroyed. This confirms the agenda of life, led by Custodian of the Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, against the agenda of death, propagated by Iran and its Houthis militias in Yemen,” he stated.

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