Yemeni-Iranian tension heightens
Hussein Abdullah, an employee of the Iranian embassy in Sana’a, told the Yemen Times that what has been reported by media outlets about the existence of Iranian intelligence cells in Yemen lacks veracity, calling for all reporters to visit the Iranian embassy to clarify ambiguous issues.
The Iranian-Yemeni relationship is reaching a time of crisis, particularly following the presidential accusations of Iranian interference into Yemeni internal affairs. The situation was exacerbated after the alleged detection of an Iranian intelligence cell by security forces.
Iran, for its part, has rejected such accusations and warned against meddling into Yemen’s internal affairs.
Abdu Salem, a political analyst, said that if the allegations turn out to be true that Iranian intelligence cells are operating in Yemen, it is simply further evidence of a regional conflict between Iran and the Gulf countries.
“It seems reasonable that Iran would pursue intelligence activity in Yemen, particularly during the current unstable political situation,” said Salem.
“Yemen’s location is very important. It lies to the south of the Arabian Peninsula which is considered the gate of Africa. Iran needs Yemen in order to be able to have a voice in the Arabian Peninsula.”
President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi called on Tehran last Wednesday to cease intervening in Yemeni affairs, promising a severe response.
He said in a speech in front of graduates of the military college that “We hope that our brothers in Iran won’t interfere in Yemen’s affairs and that they take into consideration the sensitive situation in Yemen. Leave Yemen alone, enough is enough.”
Hadi accused Tehran of paying money to dishonest people in addition to funding five TV channels to spread rumors about Yemen.
“If they don’t stop, bitter measures will be taken. Yemen is no longer a game. It will cost them a lot in case they continue such irresponsible behavior.”
Hadi asserted that there are documents and detainees that that provide substantial evidence of Iran’s involvement in Yemen’s affairs.
The security services announced the capture of an Iranian spy ring which commenced its operations in Yemen seven years ago. The Yemeni Ministry of Defense reported that the spy ring is headed by an officer in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and operates in Yemen and the Horn of Africa.
The Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast, called upon Yemen, in a statement to Al-Alam Iranian Channel, to address popular demands instead of directing accusations towards Iran.
Faris Al-Hemiari, a Yemeni journalist, said that the alleged discovery of the spy ring increases the anxieties of the Yemeni government regarding Iran’s interference in Yemen’s internal affairs after discovering several other activities.
He said that Iran, through hoping to spread influence in Yemen, attempts to find a place in the Arabian Peninsula after realizing that the Syrian regime, which one of its closest allies, is soon to be toppled.
“Iran is trying to widen its activities in Yemen through spy rings in different Yemeni governorates and buying loyalty of tribal figures, parliaments and journalists in order to create a supportive area,” he added.
For his part, Ali Al-Amrani said that the spy ring was practicing its work under trade cover and has branches in Aden and Taiz.
Al-Amrani told the Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh that the Iranian-Yemen relations saw increased tension and speculated that if Tehran’s attitude to Yemen did not change, they would encounter similar behavior in response.