Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Following a two-week visit to Tehran, a high-level Yemeni Houthi delegation has returned to Sana’a with a number of strategic cooperation agreements, including a deal that promises Yemen a year’s worth of oil supply from Iran.
Speaking on his return to the Yemeni capital, delegation leader Saleh Al-Samad said that the visit had been “successful and fruitful.”
“This visit will contribute to strengthening the cooperation relations between our two brotherly states particularly in terms of Yemen opening up to its brotherly and friendly states to serve common interests,” he said in comments carried by the Houthi-controlled SABA news agency.
Samad said that Tehran has offered to support Yemen’s energy sector, providing Sana’a with oil and gas, for the next year. He added that the cooperation agreements will have a “positive impact” on Yemen’s economy.
A Yemeni government official, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said: “Any agreements signed with Iran are completely ill-considered and illegitimate . . . and confirm the Houthi dependency on Iran in a number of fields.”
“What is even more dangerous is that the scope of these talks were limited to assisting the Houthis in terms of oil, electricity and infrastructure and did not address other issues such as security and military cooperation,” he added.
The official criticized Tehran for signing any agreements with the Houthis, stressing that it is President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi who is recognized as the legitimate leader of Yemen by the international community.
The latest announcement validates Arab Gulf accusations that Tehran is backing the Shi’ite Houthi group in Yemen amid Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) fears of Iran’s encroachment in the region.
The GCC is sponsoring a conference in Riyadh between Yemen’s various political factions to resolve the deteriorating political and security situation in the country. Despite extending an invitation to the Houthis, it is unclear whether the Shi’ite militia will attend.
UN Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar returned to Sana’a on Friday following a visit to Riyadh to discuss the putative conference.