9 Apr 2015

Kerry warns Iran over involvement in Yemen conflict

US Secretary of State John Kerry says he is “not going to step away from our alliances” in the Middle East, and was well aware of the support Iran was providing to Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Mr Kerry said the US would support countries in the Middle East who feel threatened by Iran as Houthi rebels continue to destabilise Yemen.

He said he was fully aware of the support Iran has been providing to Houthi forces.

“We’re not looking for confrontation, obviously, but we’re not going to step away from our alliances and our friendships and the need to stand with those who feel threatened as a consequence of the choices that Iran might be making,” Mr Kerry said in a TV interview.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Saudi Arabia to halt a two-week-old campaign of air strikes against Houthi fighters in Yemen, and said countries in the region should work to bring Yemen’s rival factions to the negotiating table.

‘Think about a ceasefire’

“A great nation like Yemen will not submit to bombing,” he said in a televised speech. “Come, let us all think about ending war. Let us think about a ceasefire.”

“Let us prepare to bring Yemenis to the negotiating table to make decisions about their future.”

Iran denies Saudi and US accusations that it has armed the Houthis.

Saudi Arabia, as part of a including four other Gulf Arab states, has waged air strikes against the Iran-allied Houthis to try to drive them back from the southern city of Aden.

Previous similar schemes have failed to produce tangible results in the divided Arab world.

At the formation of the alliance, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri told a news conference the Arab force would be voluntary, meaning no one country would be forced to take part and it could give member states flexibility should differences arise.