Switzerland denies recognising Houthi rebels as official entity of Yemen

Meeting between Swiss ambassador to Iran and rebel representative in Tehran triggered government backlash

epa08031124 Top Houthi leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi arrives at Sanaa Airport to receive Houthi detainees after they were released by Saudi Arabia, in Sanaa, Yemen, 28 November 2019. According to reports, 128 Houthi detainees were repatriated from Saudi Arabia to the Houthi-controlled Sanaa.  EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

Switzerland denied recognising Yemen’s Houthi rebels as an official entity after the country’s ambassador to Iran met with a rebel representative in Tehran.

The Swiss ambassador to Yemen, Balz Abplanalp, expressed his "regret for the misunderstanding" caused by the meeting between his country's ambassador to Iran, Markus Leitner and  Houthi official, Ibrahim Al Daylami this week.

"The meeting is not an official recognition by Switzerland of the Houthis," Mr Abplanalp said during talks with Yemen's Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Hadrami.

Yemen’s internationally recognised government immediately condemned the meeting, calling it a “violation of diplomatic norms”.

“The meeting is an unacceptable violation of international laws and resolutions,” Yemen’s minister of information, Mohamed Al Eryani said on Twitter.

He said the step has exposed the hidden relationship between the Houthis and Iran.

"It is a reflection of Iran's hostility towards the Yemeni government and its people and an indicator of its political, financial and military support to the Houthis," he said.

Mr Eyrani called for respecting the will of Yemeni people and the international resolutions on the crisis, mainly UN Security Council resolution 2216.

The Houthis appointed an "ambassador" in Tehran last August, which the government said, was a "breach of international law".

The Houthi-run Al Masirah TV said that Mr Al Dailami had been appointed “ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary for the republic of Yemen to the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

Mr Al Dailami is also the director-general of Al Masirah TV.

While the group is not recognised internationally as the government of Yemen, having seized the capital of Sanaa in a 2015 coup, it claims to be the administration and to make appointments accordingly.

Most countries do not recognise these moves but as its main political and military backer, Iran appears to have treated the ambassadorial appointment as if it is any other.