Iran is continuing its massive efforts to save the Houthi rebels in Yemen from being defeated by the Saudi-backed Operation Decisive Storm. The rush of diplomatic activity comes as Secretary of State John Kerry admitted Wednesday that the U.S. was aware that Iran was providing military support to the Shiite rebel group, which overthrew the Yemeni government.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met on Wednesday with his Omani counterpart, Yusuf bin Alawi, in Oman’s capital, Muscat. Tehran is using the Gulf kingdom of Oman, Yemen’s neighbor and one of the few countries in the region to remain neutral in the conflict, as an intermediary with Saudi Arabia. According to the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Arab (Arabic link), Zarif proposed a “national dialogue” alongside Houthi withdrawal from the territories they occupied, a proposal he repeated on Twitter on Friday. Zarif then rushed to Pakistan to push the Iranian initiative in that country.
At the same time, Tehran has also begun intensive diplomatic efforts with Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who just last week condemned Iran for its support of the Houthis, visited Tehran a few days later to attempt to mend ties.
The diplomatic efforts to stop the fighting in Yemen are taking place at a time when the Houthis continue to besiege the southern cities of Yemen, and particularly Aden, which is considered a stronghold of supporters of President Abbed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Hundreds of people have been killed in Yemen in recent weeks. Al-Arabiya news channel reported that the Houthis conducted massacres (Arabic link) against residents of southern Yemen.
Yesterday it was announced that Iran sent two warships to the coast of Yemen (Arabic link). The Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia made clear that it will not allow such ships to enter Yemen.