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Middle East

Yemeni govt hits out at Iranian 'interference' in its affairs

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-11-12

Yemen has rejected Iranian "interference" in its affairs after Tehran's foreign minister criticised regional intervention in Sanaa's war with Shiite rebels in a thinly veiled allusion to Saudi Arabia.

AFP - Yemen hit out on Wednesday at Iranian "interference" in its affairs after Tehran's foreign minister criticised regional intervention in Sanaa's war with Shiite rebels in a barely veiled allusion to Saudi Arabia.

"In response to the remarks of (Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr) Mottaki, we affirm that Yemen categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs by any party whatsoever," the official Saba news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.

"Yemen also rejects any attempt by any party to represent itself as the protector of sons of the Yemeni people."

Mottaki told a news conference in Tehran on Tuesday that "countries of the region must seriously hold back from intervening in Yemen's internal affairs."

"Those who pour oil on the fire must know that they will not be spared from the smoke that billows," he said.

Saudi forces have been fighting Yemeni rebels on the border for more than a week. Saudi officials have acknowledged only air strikes inside Yemen, although the rebels say ground troops have made incursions and some have been captured.

Yemeni authorities have accused the Zaidi Shiite rebels of receiving assistance from Shiite Iran, even though they profess different beliefs.

Unlike the Shiites of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, who recognise 12 historic imams, the Zaidis of Yemen recognise only the first five and then their own line. The last of their imams was overthrown in a republican coup in Sanaa in 1962 that sparked eight years of civil war.

The Zaidis are the majority community in the north of Yemen, and President Ali Abdullah Saleh is himself a Zaidi, but they form a minority in the mainly Sunni Muslim country.

The Iranian foreign minister said on Wednesday that Iran was eager to see "security, peace and tranquillity" restored in Yemen and that Iran was ready to assist in a "collective approach" to that end.

The foreign ministry spokesman said Yemen "welcomes Mottaki's comments about Iranian support for Yemeni unity and stability."

But he added that that the fighting under way in the north was "an internal Yemeni affair," and said: "Yemen is capable of settling its problems without intervention or mediation."

Date created : 2009-11-12

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