Yemenis slam Sanaa University's tilt towards Iran

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


In this file photo from March 8th, 2016, Yemeni students at Sanaa University hold posters bearing a portrait of Lebanese Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah. More recently, Yemeni officials have slammed the Houthis, also backed by Iran, for naming a graduating class in honour of slain Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

Yemeni officials and academics have denounced the Houthis' decision to name Sanaa University's first class of Farsi graduates the "Qassem Soleimani" class, in honour of the slain Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander.

The move by the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) shows the scale of Iranian influence in areas under their control, they said.

The Faculty of Languages held a ceremony to celebrate the graduation on November 5th, deeming the graduates the "Qassem Soleimani" class.

The Farsi language department was established four years ago, under the supervision of Morteza Abedini, chargé d'affaires of the Iranian Embassy in Sanaa. Abedini visited the university in April 2016 to inaugurate the department.

Yemen's Information Minister Muammar al-Eryani condemned the Houthis' use of the name of the "terrorist" IRGC Quds Force commander for one of the university classes.

"The Houthis have turned Sanaa University, an academic edifice, into a centre for brainwashing young people," he said.

He accused the Iran-backed group of undermining the identity of Yemeni youth, spreading extremist ideology "and glorifying the symbols of Iranian terrorism", which he said has harmed the countries and peoples of the region.

"These behaviours, which the Houthis are trying to spread in areas under their control, are alien to our culture and identity," he added. "This shows, yet again, the destructive role of Iran."

Soleimani's hand in Yemen

Rights activist Abdou Ali al-Hothaifi said it was Soleimani who facilitated the funding that enabled the creation of the Farsi language department, which explains why the Houthis named the first graduating class after him.

"The celebration, which is a message intended for the Iranian financier, documents the scale of cultural and social shifts which the militias have imposed," he said.

Meanwhile, the Houthis have decided to shut down eight departments in the Faculty of Arts: French, Arabic, History and International Relations, Geography, Philosophy, Antiquities and Tourism, Libraries, and Information.

The Houthis' decision to name the graduating Farsi class in honour of Soleimani is a clear indication that Iran is now controlling Sanaa, Abaad Centre for Strategic Studies head Abdul Salam Mohammed told Al-Mashareq.

He noted that doctrinal and cultural changes are part of the Iranian occupation.

Similarly, "shutting down departments at the Faculty of Arts, including the Arabic department, and imposing the Farsi language department, is a systematic cultural change," he said.

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May God have mercy on the two mujahid martyrs, Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes!