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Iran Proposes Giving Huthists Sanctuary in Iraq | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A high-ranking Iraqi government source has affirmed that Tehran is behind the proposal that was put forward by a prominent leader of the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council[IISC], led by Abdulaziz al-Hakim, to host Yemeni Al-Huthi figures in Iraq. He noted that the proposal was justified on the ground that it would “embarrass” the Yemeni authorities who are currently hosting Iraqi Baath Party members and officials of the former Iraqi regime.

In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the Iraqi government source said that Hammam Hammudi, who is a leading member of IISC “has actually made a request for hosting Yemeni Al-Huthi figures in Iraq in response to Yemen’s hosting of Iraqi figures.”

The source, who insisted on anonymity, added: “At first, we thought that the proposal was merely intended for electioneering purposes, particularly because the date of the election is approaching. However, we were surprised to learn that the request was serious and that it was justified on the grounds that its goal was to embarrass the Yemeni authorities who host Iraqi academics, officials, and prominent members of the Baath party.” He added that “Iran was behind this request, taking into account the fact that the Al-Huthists are affiliated with the Shiite creed and they receive direct support from Iran.” He pointed out that “Tehran, where Abdulaziz al-Hakim is currently receiving medical treatment in one of its hospitals, is the leader of IISC with which Hammudi is affiliated. Al-Hakim is known for his close ties with Iran, the party behind putting forward the proposal for the hosting in Baghdad of leading figures of Al-Huthists, who are a Shiite minority in Yemen.”

This government pointed out that “putting forward such a proposal at this point in time is strange, particularly because Iraq is currently facing security problems. In addition, Baghdad is calling on the Arab countries to send ambassadors, so why should we place obstacles in the way of our diplomatic efforts by embarrassing the Yemeni government?” He added: “The Iraqi government may play an informal role in helping the Yemeni government to solve the Al-Huthists crisis through non-governmental parties,” which he did not name. He stressed that the Iraqi government “would not get involved in such issues.”

For his part, Rida Jawad Taqiyy, official in charge of political relations in the IISC, has denied any knowledge of this proposal. He said: “I have heard nothing about such a proposal by Sheikh Hammam Hammudi.” In a statement by telephone from Baghdad to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “We are currently busy setting up the United Iraqi Coalition and preparing for lengthy meetings toward this goal. Hammudi is now abroad, and I personally have not heard about such a requestor proposal.”

Hammudi could not be reached for comment.

Asharq Al-Awsat called Iraqi writer Salah al-Mukhtar, who resides in Yemen, and who is a Baath party member and previously held the post of chief editor of the official Iraqi newspaper Al-Jumhuriyah in the era of the former regime. He said: “The Iraqi nationals who are residing in Yemen are university professors and former officers and pilots.” He denied that Baath Party leaders or former Iraqi government officials live in Yemen. He said that “Al-Huthists receive support and financial aid from Iran.” He expressed his belief that the Yemeni government “would not be embarrassed if Al-Huthist figures were hosted in Iraq; there is already an office for Al-Huthists in al-Najaf.” He revealed that “the Iraqi government had earlier demanded the extradition of Iraqi nationals living in Yemen, but this request was rejected by the Yemeni authorities.” He said that such a proposal was “an indication that views, opposite views, and the freedom of others are not respected.” He said: “Why did the Iraqi opposition, which now rules Iraq, previously consider its presence in any country of the world as legal, whereas it now rejects the presence of Iraqi nationals in Yemen, where they lead a normal life?”