An adviser to
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has rejected accusations that Iran is involved in the secessionist unrest which is escalating in the country's southern provinces, Press TV reported.
"Tehran plays no role in the clashes between police forces and separatist rebels in the southern provinces of Dhale and Lahj. To everyone's surprise, a
US flag is hoisted on the roof of the building which houses a prominent leader of the Southern Movement, Tariq al-Fadhli," the IRNA news agency cited Abdel Karim al-Ariani as telling the Kuwaiti daily al-Siyassah on Saturday.
Yemen launched an offensive against southern separatists after they called for an anti-government uprising in February 2010.
Separatists have attacked police officials and razed several buildings in the unrest. A number of people from each side have been killed in the conflict.
Since shortly after the unification of the country, the people of oil-rich southern Yemen have criticized the northern-based government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh for systematic discrimination, land expropriations, meager state funding, and the steady loss of jobs to northerners.
The Southern Movement is an umbrella organization that embraces several secessionist groups demanding a separate state in what was until 1990 the Marxist republic of South Yemen.
The Southern Movement, which is supported by powerful tribal leaders, emerged in 2007, led by former military officers who say the southerners have been treated badly since the civil war.
Southern Yemen, a former British colony which covered the provinces east and south of Sana'a, was an independent state from 1967 until 1990, when it merged with the tribal-dominated north under Saleh.
The rising political unrest in southern Yemen, fueled by a tough security crackdown, threatens to erupt into a full-blown insurgency and lead to the breakup of the Arab world's poorest state.
The situation could also open the door for the expansion of
al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula since Yemen is the ancestral homeland of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The group has claimed responsibility for several attacks on foreign missions, tourist sites, and oil installations in southern Yemen.