Iranian officials have issued conflicting statements to justify the sudden departure of Tehran’s ambassador to Sana’a and his deputy on Monday last week, in a step that has fueled speculation that the Islamic Republic will close its embassy in Yemen.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian denied claims that Tehran is considering closing of its embassy in Sana’a, saying the Iranian ambassador returned to Tehran for several days for treatment.
Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported Abdollahian as saying yesterday that the Iranian ambassador and members of the embassy left Sana’a, but the Iranian embassy will continue its activities as usual.
Abdollahian’s statement contradicted that of the Foreign Ministry. Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham had earlier said that Ambassador Hossein Niknam had returned to Tehran for his annual vacation.
Many observers believe the move represents “a preemptive step” by Iran following reports that Yemen’s exiled government is seriously considering severing diplomatic ties with Tehran.
Yemen’s Foreign Minister Riad Yassin accused the Iranian embassy of turning into a “military operations room for the Houthis”.
Yassin said in a statement that the Iranian embassy provides financial and intelligence support and military advice to the Houthis.
Observers believe the coming period will witness the end of the Houthis’ control of Sana’a after they recently accepted the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2216.