Muscat and Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—All political factions in Yemen need to be involved in any process aimed at ending the current crisis in the country, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif said on Tuesday.
In a clear reference to the Shi’ite Houthi movement, Zarif said all groups in Yemen “without exception” needed to “find new solutions to stop the fighting” in the country and speed up the delivery of humanitarian aid to its people.
The Iranian foreign minister was speaking to reporters in Oman following meetings with his Omani counterpart Yusuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah.
Sources said Zarif, who left Oman on Tuesday to head to Kuwait for a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), also met with a delegation of representatives of the Shi’ite Houthi movement in Muscat.
The delegation arrived in the Omani capital a week ago on a plane from Sana’a, the sources maintained.
Iran has been accused by Saudi Arabia, its Arab allies, and the international community of offering support to the Houthis, who launched a coup in February deposing Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and his government headed by Khaled Bahah.
Hadi appointed Maj. Gen. Abduh Al-Huthaifi as the country’s new interior minister on Tuesday in place of Maj. Gen. Jalal Al-Ruwaishan.
Ruwaishan’s sacking and replacement come after he continued working in his post, allegedly coordinating with the Houthis after their takeover of Sana’a in September 2014.
Ruwaishan made numerous comments to the media in the following months saying the country’s security establishment would maintain its distance from all parties in the conflict—the government and the Houthis—even as Houthi militias took over the Interior Ministry building in Sana’a.
The militias had occupied other government buildings during that time and then began spreading throughout other areas of the country, before the Houthis declared the coup months later in February.
The group’s militias have met with stiff resistance from the Popular Resistance, a loose coalition of volunteer fighters across the country loyal to Hadi.
The volunteers have been aided in recent months by Saudi-led airstrikes involving a coalition of Arab partners. The strikes, launched on March 26, targeted Houthi positions across the country.
A source from the Popular Resistance in Ma’rib province told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday that during the last 48 hours Houthi rebels had suffered “heavy losses” in the central province at the hands of the volunteer fighters.
The source, who requested anonymity for safety reasons, said during that time there had been “fierce clashes which saw the putschist [Houthi] militias lose a great many fighters, with many others injured.”
A Katyusha rocket launcher was also captured from the Houthis, the source said, maintaining this had been used to target civilians in the province.
Arafat Madabish contributed additional reporting from Sana’a.