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News Analysis: Iran seeks political solution to Yemen crisis

English.news.cn   2015-03-31 17:42:55

by Yang Dingdu, Fu Hang

TEHRAN, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Iran genuinely hopes for an end to Saudi-led airstrikes on Houthi positions and reaching a political solution to the Yemeni crisis despite being accused by some neighbors of meddling in the Arab country, analysts have said.

Iran's policy toward Yemen's crisis has always been dialogue and reconciliation among the country's various factions and tribes, and "military intervention was never an option," Mohammad Marandi, dean of the Faculty of International Studies at Tehran University, said in an interview with Xinhua.

Marandi stressed that ending the airstrikes is essential to solving the Yemen crisis as it is hard to arrange meetings and talks when a country is still being bombed.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Tuesday that Tehran has not admitted any role in Yemen in spite of outside reports of Iran supporting Houthi rebels.

"Claims about the dispatch of weapons from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Yemen are completely fabricated and sheer lies," she said.

However, Iran has offered to mediate for peace talks. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif said on Friday that Iran is fully ready to cooperate with other countries in the Middle East to facilitate dialogue among both regional stakeholders and conflicting Yemeni parties to restore peace in the Arab country.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian said Iran believes that political means is the only way to solve Yemen's crisis. The country will do its best to support dialogue and political process in Yemen.

Sadeq Zibakalam, professor of political science at Tehran University, stresses that Iran wants political stability in Yemen.

Iran's objective is to see a coalition government formed in Yemen with the country's Shiite population properly represented, said Zibakalam.

"You only get problem with Iran if you want to overrule and ignore Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiites in Iraq or Houthis in Yemen," he added.

Analysts do not see Iran seeking dominant influence over Yemen, a country that relies heavily on foreign cash, which is not abundant in Tehran because of sanctions. Also, Iran is separated from Yemen by the sea while Saudi Arabia, which has been traditionally influential in Yemen, sits right on its northern border.

In addition, Iran does not want Yemen's crisis to further play havoc on its efforts to improve ties with neighbors. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has pledged improving ties with neighboring countries as one of his government's priorities. Zarif also went on tour visits to Gulf countries with which high level exchanges had been rare because of strained ties.

On Monday, Iran's Chairman of Expediency Council Ayatollah Ali akbar Hashemi Rafsanjan canceled his visit to Ryiadh, condemning the airstrikes as "strategic mistake." Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, disregarding an imminent visit to Tehran, accused Iran of intervening in Yemen and trying to dominate the region.

The Yemeni crisis is a tricky issue for Iran. However, if well handled, it will prove Iran's essential role in resolving regional issues to the world, especially to the United States, Zibakalam, the professor of political science, said.

"It will send a signal to the United States that Iran supports positive forces in the region, not radicals," he added. Zibakalam believes potential for cooperation on regional issues and less thorny ties with the United States can help with ongoing talks on Iran's nuclear program.

Saudi Arabia said the military airstrikes against the Houthis in Yemen will continue until security is restored and Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who left the country last week, is able to rule.

Official SPA news agency, which is controlled by the Houthis, reported Saturday that death toll from the airstrikes over the past four days rose to 48, with 157 injured.

The Shiite Houthi forces ousted Yemeni President Hadi in February and forced him to flee the capital city Sanaa to the southern seaside city of Aden, turning Yemen into a field of violence and raising fears of a civil war in the chaotic country.

Editor: Luan
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