Jeddah, Sana’a and Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Iranian embassy in Yemen’s capital Sana’a is offering financial, strategic, and military advisory support to the Houthi rebels in country, Yemen’s Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin said on Sunday.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Yassin said Iran’s embassy in Sana’a had become a “Houthi operations room” and that Iranian intelligence and military experts at the embassy were helping the Houthis plan attacks against government loyalists and forces from the Saudi-led coalition targeting the group.
He added that the embassy is “equipped with resources not even the Yemeni government is in possession of” and that it was also being used to distribute financial support to the Houthi militias currently stationed in different parts of the country.
The Shi’ite Houthis, backed by Iran and Yemen’s ousted former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, occupied Sana’a in September 2014. They then launched a coup the following February deposing Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and his government.
Yemeni government loyalist forces and a coalition of Arab counties led by Saudi Arabia are currently engaged in a ground and air offensive against the Houthis, seeking to reinstate Hadi and the government.
On Sunday coalition warplanes bombed several targets in the capital, according to eyewitnesses speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat.
They said over 15 individual strikes were carried out, including several targeting the headquarters of Yemen’s Special Security Forces, who are loyal to ex-president Saleh. The sources said most of the HQ’s compound has now been destroyed following the air raids.
The coalition has announced a plan to retake Sana’a with the aid of government loyalists on the ground, known as the Popular Resistance, to follow gains made in the country’s south which have seen the southern port city of Aden and almost all southern provinces liberated from Houthi control.
The coalition is now closing in on the Houthis in Sana’a and also in the group’s northern stronghold of Saada. The group last month declared a state of emergency in both areas.
Local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday the Houthis now have a plan in place in anticipation of the impending attack on the capital.
They said the Houthis plan to “spread a wave of chaos” prior to the entry into the capital of coalition forces and those from the Popular Resistance, which will include assassinations of any figures they deem may cooperate with the latter against them—such as political activists and university professors.
Meanwhile, on Sunday Saudi hospitals received 852 Yemenis injured as a result of the conflict, in a joint initiative between the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Works and the Ministry of Health.
This comes as the King Salman Center on Saturday launched the second phase of a joint humanitarian relief project with the United Nations, delivering aid worth some 22 million US dollars to help Yemenis caught up in the conflict.
In May Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdulaziz increased Saudi Arabia’s aid commitment to Yemen to over half a billion dollars.
Arafat Madabish contributed additional reporting from Sana’a.