By Tamjid Alkohali
Contrary to what has been published in the media about the start of 4 direct flights per week between Yemen and Iran, travel and tourism agencies in Sana’a confirmed that flights haven’t started yet and there is no system for any Iranian aviation companies. According to an official at al-Mukarram Agency for Tourism and Travel, there isn’t any clear idea about the time of implementation.
The arrival of the first Iranian plane to Sana’a International Airport since 1990 raised a lot of controversy in Yemen about the goal of this step and the status of Iranian support for the Houthis, who have controlled the capital Sana’a and several provinces since last September.
The Mahan Air plane landed in Sana’a airport on March 1st and delivered cargo of humanitarian aid donated by Iran’s Red Crescent Society. On its return to Tehran, it took a delegation of Houthi officials headed by the presidential adviser of Houthis, Saleh Al-Samad.
Houthis explained the existence of Iranian Aviation as economic support for Yemen in its deteriorating situation. Politicians confirmed the existence of political goals behind the deal.
Earlier, Yemeni President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi stated that the deal is invalid and illegal because the Houthis refused the decision to appoint the Chairman for the General Authority of Civil Aviation and appointed a person loyal to them.
Moreover, the opponents of the Houthis fear the use of these flights to bring weapons and fighters to Yemen from Tehran. Analysts also believe that the signing of this deal is an attempt by the Houthis to escape the international isolation imposed on them, after a number of western countries including Italy, France, Britain, Germany, and the US as well as Japan and Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) closed their embassies and evacuated all their diplomatic staff in Sana’a as result of the Constitutional Declaration of the Houthis on February 6th.
In September 2014, Houthi forces gained control of Sana’a following a four-day battle with the army, which is still viewed as loyal to the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Houthi revolutionaries say that the Yemeni government has been incapable of properly running the affairs of the country and providing security. The movement has established a transitional council to govern the country until a new government is elected.