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Houthi Official Hails Iran-Saudi Rapprochement, Hopes It Will Mean Peace for Yemen

© AP Photo / Hani MohammedYemen Front Line
Yemen Front Line - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.03.2023
Long-time regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia inked a surprise normalization of relations agreement in Beijing on March 10 after years of quiet, behind-the-scenes negotiations, catching Washington off guard and sparking back-and-forth bickering in Tel Aviv about who is to blame for the "dangerous failure" of Israeli foreign policy.
A Houthi military official has cautiously welcomed the Iran-Saudi Arabia normalization deal, expressing hope that it may help end of the Yemeni security crisis.

"We regard any step taken by Muslim countries to become closer to one another as a positive and compelling thing," senior military spokesman Brig-Gen Abdullah bin Amer told Iranian media on Sunday.

"What could its connection be to Yemen? We emphasize the need to end aggression and ending the blockade of Yemen as they key to ending military operations," the official said, referring to the eight-year-long military intervention in Yemen by a coalition of Gulf States.

"At this time, we are focusing on reducing tensions. This issue was mentioned in the speech of the Houthi leadership," Amer added.

Sunday marks the eighth anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen to try to restore former president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to power after his ouster by the Houthis in 2015.
The coalition proved unsuccessful in its effort to eject the Houthis from areas under their control, and the conflict sparked a major humanitarian crisis, with over 13 million Yemenis in dire need of humanitarian assistance, and over 300,000 people left dead. At the same time, Houthi missile and drone attacks have threatened cities and infrastructure across Saudi Arabia, undermining the kingdom’s national security.
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In a television address on Saturday, Houthi leader Seyyed Abdul Malik al-Houthi called the conflict in Yemen "an American war which the United States launched through its regional mercenaries to avoid losses and casualties."
"Most of the weapons that have killed our children during the war are US-made, fired from American fighter jets and with the training and supervision of Americans," al-Houthi said. "The objective pursued by America, Britain and the Zionist regime is to keep Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates engaged in the Yemen War," he added, with 'Zionist regime' being a reference to Israel.
The militia leader urged Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to halt their military operations in Yemen, which are “in line with the interests of the United States, and to think about their own interests.”
The Biden administration recognizes the importance of the Yemeni crisis in the long-running standoff between Riyadh and Tehran. At a press briefing earlier this month discussing the Iranian-Saudi normalization pact, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby questioned whether the rapprochement agreement could be "sustained" amid the conflict in Yemen and Saudi Arabia having "to continually try to defend itself against attacks from the Houthis who are funded and supported by Iran." Iran has consistently denied providing any material assistance to the Yemeni militia.
Washington has spent years seeking to prevent the normalization of Iran-Saudi ties, going so far as to sabotage secret Iraq-brokered talks in 2020 by assassinating negotiator Qasem Soleimani, the late commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force.
The March 10 normalization deal marks another expression of Saudi independence vis-à-vis its traditional US allies, with President Biden’s string of insulting remarks against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, combined with moves to delay arms sales and threats to disclose details on Saudi Arabia’s role in 9/11 prompting reciprocal measures from Riyadh. Those steps included rejecting a US request to increase oil production, refusing to join the West’s sanctions crusade against Russia, and consideration of a Chinese petroyuan in place of the petrodollar.
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