UAE's Gargash: status of Houthis as Iran proxy now 'black and white'

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs comments come after Iran's supreme leader said he backs the Yemeni rebels

Emirati Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash speaks during a press conference in Dubai on June 18, 2018. The United Arab Emirates, part of a Saudi-led Arab military alliance in Yemen, warned Huthi rebels to withdraw from the key port city of Hodeida as coalition-backed government forces advance.
The "Hodeida port operation will continue unless rebels withdraw unconditionally,"  Gargash told a press conference in Dubai.
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The position of the Yemeni rebel Houthi group as an Iranian proxy is now clear, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash said on Wednesday after members of the group met with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The rebels have increased attacks on the Arab Coalition backing the government using Iranian rocket and drones. Saudi Arabia has also accused Iran of masterminding attacks on the kingdom using the rebels.

“Houthi relations with Iran, for long in search for proper designation, is clearer following their leadership’s meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei,” Dr Gargash said in a tweet on Wednesday. “[It is] stated in black & white in their statement of fealty the Houthis are a proxy and that is the correct terminology.”

Ayatollah Khamenei hosted Houthi rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam at his Tehran residence late Tuesday.

"I declare my support for the mujahid (fighters) of Yemen," he said in a statement issued after the talks to urge support for Yemen's Houthi against the Saudi Arabian-led Arab Coalition, which he said is trying to “disintegrate” the country.

epa07772029 A handout photo made available by the supreme leader official website shows, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) talks to Mohammed Abdul Salam the spokesman of Yemen's Ansar Allah movement (Houthi) in Tehran, Iran, 13 August 2019. Media reported that Khamenei said to Salam that stand with all your power against Saudi Arabia and Emirates conspiracies and don't let them to breakdown Yemen.  EPA/IRANIAN LEADER OFFICE HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Mr Khamenei claimed that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their supporters seek to break up Yemen, “which must stand firm against this conspiracy”.

A coalition has been fighting the Houthis in northern Yemen since March 2015 on behalf of the internationally-backed government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia on Monday called on pro-government Yemeni parties to hold talks to resolve recent tension in Aden after days of clashes.

In Makkah, Saudi King Salman and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, discussed the situation in Yemen.

The pair reaffirmed their call for the parties to "prioritise dialogue and reason in the interest of Yemen and its people".

Sheikh Mohamed said the two countries would "confront any and all powers that threaten the safety and security of the region", the state news agency Wam reported.

The UN on Tuesday welcomed the Saudi led initiative to convene talks between leaders of pro-government groups in Jeddah and said it had been following developments on the ground closely.

"It is critical that all parties work to ensure that the events of the past days do not lead to further instability in Aden or elsewhere in Yemen," a spokesperson for the UN said in a statement. "We emphasize that the conflict in Yemen can only be resolved through an inclusive political process."