Iran, Houthis signal Yemen peace is not the goal: experts
A recent meeting between Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei and Houthi Political Council member Mohammad Abdul Salam makes it clear the Houthis (Ansarallah) lack credibility as peacemakers, experts and officials said.
Khamenei received Abdul Salam at his residence in Tehran on August 13th.
A few days later, the Houthis announced they had appointed an "ambassador" in Tehran, a step condemned by the internationally recognised government as a breach of international laws, AFP reported.
Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV on August 17th announced that Ibrahim Mohammed Mohammed al-Dailami had been appointed "as an ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary for the republic of Yemen to the Islamic republic of Iran".
Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi severed diplomatic relations with Iran in October 2015, accusing Tehran of providing military aid to the Houthis.
Tehran has denied the accusation but publicly offers strong political backing to the Houthis.
Relationship 'out in the open'
"Contrary to what is said publicly, the [August 13th] meeting is a continuation of the meetings held between Houthi and Iranian officials throughout the war," Yemen's Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul-Hafeez told Al-Mashareq.
It reveals the "deep connection between Iran and the Houthis", he said.
Through its support for the Houthis, the Iranian regime aims to intervene directly to prolong Yemen's war and further its own hegemony, Abdul-Hafeez said.
"Khamenei's meeting confirms the role the Houthis play for Iran’s benefit, despite the denials by both sides," he said, pointing out that these denials "are contradicted by the facts".
"The Houthis have pawned Yemen and its security and stability to Iran," Yemen's Deputy Minister of Information Abdul Basit al-Qaidi told Al-Mashareq.
"The Houthis are no longer hiding this relationship as they did in the past," he said. "It has been brought out in the open."
The meeting makes it clear that the Houthis "are just a tool" in the hands of Khamenei, and are furthering his agenda in the region, he added.
Not the mediators they claim to be
Iran's relationship with the Houthis is "a father-to-son relationship, given the massive support Iran provides the Houthis", journalist Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.
Its actions have served to prolong the war and have created "a constant hotbed of tension" in Yemen, he said.
"Houthi leader and deputy minister of foreign affairs in the so-called Houthi government in Sanaa Hussein al-Azzi declared his support for secession in a post on his Twitter account," Ahmed noted.
In his post, al-Azzi "expressed his admiration for the mass rally held in Aden on August 15th, called for by the Southern Transitional Council, and declared his support for, in his words, their right to secede", Ahmed said.
With this stance, the Houthis, and the Iranian regime behind them, have proven they are not the peace mediators they are claiming to be at the negotiations with the legitimate government, he added.
Ahmed noted that the Iranian regime also has been supplying the Houthis with missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), along with experts and other support.
Smuggling weapons to the Houthis
"Iran is very keen on supporting its allies, particularly the Houthis, so they may play roles for its benefit in international conflicts, such as the one playing out in the waters of the Arabian Gulf," Abdul-Hafeez said.
The Iranian regime has been providing the Houthis "with military, financial and media support to prolong the war and exert pressure on the countries of the region", he said.
Yemen has a 2,000-kilometre coastline on the Red Sea, in which there are about 122 islands that have been used by the Iranians and Houthis to smuggle weapons into the country onboard fishermen's boats, he said.
The Iranian regime supplies the militia with disassembled UAVs and ballistic missiles that are reassembled in workshops set up in Sanaa neighbourhoods, he said.
The Houthis' aggressive actions in Yemen are in sync with the Iranian agenda in the Arabian peninsula and the Gulf, said political analyst Rashad al-Sharaabi.
He described the Houthis as a "violent group with an armed militia that looted the weapons of the Yemeni state and does not care if civilians are killed".
The militia's "total subservience to Iran enables it to receive continuous support", he told Al-Mashareq, particularly in the form of weapons.
The Iranian regime in turn seeks to benefit from the support it provides to the Houthis, he said, noting that the Houthis have been using Iran-supplied weapons to attack the regime's opponents inside Yemen and in Saudi Arabia.