SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s president on Wednesday called on Iran to stop spying in his country, warning that the Shiite-led nation would “pay the price” if it continues meddling.
His stern warning followed claims in state media that an Iranian spy operation had been uncovered.
“We will embarrass them in front of the world,” President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said on state TV.
He said he would make public his information linking Iran to spying in Yemen.
“I will take the necessary steps, and a heavy price will be paid if you continue with this manner,” he said, addressing Iran.
A security official said that an Iranian revolutionary guard officer was arrested for allegedly running a spy network in Yemen, and several members of the network were also arrested.
He said the ringleader entered Yemen with false identity documents, but an investigation uncovered his identity as a Revolutionary Guard officer who has been operating in Yemen for some time.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity according to regulations.
The U.S. ambassador in Yemen has repeatedly said that Iran is meddling in Yemen and playing on specific factions, a reference to those in the south calling for separation and Shiite Houthi rebels in the north who have fought the government since 2004.
Shiite-led Iran and Yemen’s powerful Sunni Muslim neighbor to the north, Saudi Arabia, are bitter regional rivals and have competing strategic interests in the Gulf. Saudi Arabia was a key player in brokering a deal to force longtime Yemeni ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh hand over power to Hadi in February, after nearly a year of protests against his rule.
“No matter how much money they offer, and no matter how much they try and play on emotions, they will fail in Yemen,” Hadi said, referring to alleged Iranian espionage activities.
He called on Iran to “take into consideration the delicate circumstances the country is passing through … We say from here to leave Yemen to mind its own affairs, and that is enough for now.” Hadi spoke during a military cadet graduation ceremony.
Separately, in the capital Sanaa, an army officer who was a former regime loyalist was killed while leading an attack on the house of a general who defected to the opposition last year during the uprising against Saleh.
The clash showed an undercurrent of tribal and political tensions, though Saleh has been replaced.
In southern Yemen, armed tribesmen ambushed a group of al-Qaeda militants, killing two and wounding three, the official said.
The clash took place in an area seized by the army and tribesmen last month in heavy fighting with al-Qaeda militants. Al-Qaeda took control there during last year’s internal political turmoil.