Yemen Confrontation Part of Iran's Pragmatic Policy: Experts

Azerbaijan, Baku, 29 May /corr. Trend E.Tanriverdiyeva, R.Hafizoglu / Iran pursues not the Islamic policy, but policy of its own interests in Yemen, and this will lead to confrontation within the country. " Tehran's policy is not so much ideological as it is pragmatic--even Machiavellian. Tehran just supports the Yemen government over the Houthis for its own pragmatic reasons," American expert Mark N. Katz said.

On 28 May, confrontation took place in the capital city of Yemen between the governmental troops and groups of Shi'ite-Zaydiyahs under the name of Houthis. It is already the second confrontation in Yemen between Houthis and Government, Al-Jazeеra TV channel reported. The ShWestern and Arab sources of media often report that Iran significantly influences Yemen Shi'ites.

" Tehran's policy is not so much ideological as it is pragmatic.  Just as Tehran prefers to support Christian Armenia over Shi'ite Azerbaijan, Tehran also supports the Yemeni government over the Houthis for its own pragmatic reasons," Mark N. Katz, Professor of George Mason University, reported to Trend via e-mail on 29 May.

The politician does not believe that Iran is supporting the rebel "Houthis". "Doing so would not gain much for Iran. Although the news media has focused on the fact that these rebels are Shi'ites, the fact of the matter is that much of the leadership of the Republic of Yemen is also Shi'ite," the politician said. According to expert, unlike Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis are not strong enough to take over a large part of the country. 

Moreover, he stated that since Yemen has poor relations with neighboring Saudi Arabia, and Iran also has poor relations with the Kingdom, it makes far more sense for Tehran to support the Yemen government in order to cooperate with it against Riyadh.

"Indeed Iran's this policy was seen in early May of this year when the then Iranian Majlis speaker, Gholamali Haddad-Adel received the Yemen Foreign Minister," Katz said. Yemen's Saba news agency said that Haddad-Adel "renewed the position of Iran, which supports stability and unity of Yemen and no intervention in its internal affairs."  A plan was announced for the presidents of Iran and Yemen to meet soon.According to expert, it is mainly hysterical Western observers (who do not know better) and nearby Sunni governments (which actually do know better) who have claimed or suggested that there is a connection between the Houthis and Tehran.  "The Yemen government, of course, has an interest in this being believed in the West in order to draw attention away from the real cause of the conflict--the Yemeni government's violation of human rights which has sparked the rebellion," Katz said.

"Though there are a lot of evidences that Iran supports Yemen Shiites, I think that Iran supports Shi'ite-Zaydiyahs materially, but not by supplying armament," Mustafa Aani, an independent expert from Unites Arab Emirates said. "Of course, there is no official confirmation from Iran, but Iranian Shiites exert their influence on the Yemen Shiites," Aani said to Trend over a telephone.

According to expert, though Yemen Shi'ite-Zaydiyahs differ from the Shiite -Jahfarits, who make up majority of Shiites all over the world, it is not important for Iran. " Iran pursues the policy of support and uniting all Shiites all over the world regardless of the differences within the confessions and it is, of course, part of the policy of Iran," Aani believes.

"The support for the Shiites is not Islamic policy of Iran, it is more likely pragmatic national policy," the expert said.

According to the political expert, it is a common knowledge that Iran has its influence on Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Bahrain. As there are significant number of Shiites in Yemen, Tehran wants to intensify its influence in this part of the population of the country. "I believe that the policy of intervention into the internal affairs of the Gulf countries will lead to the destabilization in the region in the long run," Aani said.

Some 10 people died as a result of the resumed confrontation between government forces and participants of the religious rebellion of the Shi'ite-Zaydiyahs in the Saad province in north of Yemen.

The Shiites make up the majority in the north-west of the country, with the key part of Yemen population being Muslim- Zaydiyahs. Shi'ite-Zaydiyahs are followers of one of the moderate Shiite sects founded by Zeyd bin Ali. In the 10th century, Zaydiyahs established a government in Yemen's territory where their imams ruled until revolution of 26 September 1962. They make up a large proportion of the population in the north of Yemen Arab Republic.

The correspondent can be contacted at: [email protected]

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