Conflicting reports on Iran's interference in southern Yemen
The Guardian newspaper reported last Friday that Iranian interference in Yemen has increased in the wake of the Arab Spring, according to a prominent activist in the Southern Movement, who requested anonymity.
“Iran is intervening in the southern region of Yemen, particularly Aden, to gain control of Yemeni waterways. They do this mainly with the cooperation of young southerners who don’t belong to the Socialist Party, which ruled the south of Yemen before unification,” Mohammed told the Yemen Times.
“These youth are largely unemployed, especially after the turbulence caused by their calls for the secession of south Yemen. They are looking for a financial supporter.”
“Iranian interference in Yemen isn’t dangerous if there is a state powerful enough to apply its laws,” he added.
According to Mohammed, Iran’s interference in Yemen serves American interests because the US uses Iranian interference as a justification for keeping military bases in the Gulf, and selling weapons to Gulf countries.
However, Khaled Ba Madhaf, a leader in the Southern Movement, told the Yemen Times that there is still no clear proof of Iran’s interference in the south despite of its interests in Yemeni waterways.
“The security vacuum and the ongoing demands to find fair solutions for the southern issue have left only options could hurt the stability of the community,” he said.
Ba Madhaf claimed that unless the southern issue is solved, the situation will get out of control, and external interference—easily undertaken in the south—will then flourish.
He claims that youth from southern Yemen travelling to areas with strong Iranian influence are not necessarily on a political mission. “Some southern youth go to Beirut and Tehran not for south Yemeni-Iranian projects, but for educational or training courses,” he said.
The Guardian newspaper pointed out that the activist said that Iran wants to control a waterway around the Arab Peninsula to put pressure on Saudi Arabia and to be close to the strategic straight of Bab Al-Mandeb, in case of war with America.
“When the Iranians approached him, Jemajem, a Hirak activist known as “the Guevara of south Yemen” was asked to gather a group of Hirak activists and a week later they were flown to Damascus, where they met two officials from the Iranian embassy,” The Guardian reported.
In The Guardian’s report, Jemajem said, “the officials told the Yemeni delegation that they would support demands for federalism within Yemen, but not the separate state that Hirak was calling for. “
A group of 15 Yemenis traveled to Tehran without visas via Iran Airlines, with no one else on the plane. When it landed, they were taken to a hotel and weren’t allowed to leave except when accompanied by guards to visit Iranian officials, reported The Guardian.
“All the officials we met used aliases. They didn’t tell us who they worked for but they asked us many questions,” said a female in the group who requested anonymity.
Jemajem said that Iran put forth the condition that the Southern Movement not control weapon stores, as that will be the duty of the Houthis in the north.
“We realized then that the Iranians want us to be pawns… They told us the Houthis would deliver the weapons and the money. We are trying to liberate our country from the northerners – I am not going to be under the control of another northerner,” added Jemajem.
A delegation of traders from Hadramout, including Abdullah Buqshan, a prominent businessman, met Ali Salem Al-Beed, former president of South Yemen, last week and asked him to put an end to his Iranian alliance.
Al-Wasat newspaper reported last Wednesday that Al-Beed set forth the condition that Saudi Arabia support the Southern Movement if it quits its alliance with Iran.
Al-Wasat also reported that Iran attracts political activists by way of Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group and political party based in Lebanon that is supported by Iran and Syria, under the pretext of holding workshops in Iran and Lebanon.
Al-Wasat mentioned that Hezbollah trains numerous media personnel. 60 of them, all Yemenis, were trained at Hezbollah’s Al-Manar Channel last month.