As Middle East muscle-flexors -- Saudi Arabia and Iran -- have agreed to shake hands and move rapidly to restore diplomatic ties, there are signs that the war of each others’ proxies in the impoverished country of Yemen could end.
The conflict in Yemen is seen by Western sources as an extension of the Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict, where they have lent support of varying degrees to rival forces in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. It started when Iran-backed Houti rebels took over the Yemeni government in 2014, and a Saudi-led coalition started an operation to restore it.
The war between the Saudi-backed Yemen government and the Houti rebels appears to have reached a stalemate with neither side making any claims of major attacks since the beginning of this year. Around two weeks ago, however, four Yemeni soldiers were killed in clashes with Houtis in the oil-rich province of Marib.
On March 10, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to resume trade and diplomatic relations, and reopen embassies within two months, patching up a seven-year split by reviving a security cooperation pact. The foreign ministers of the two countries will hold a meeting to implement this decision and make the necessary arrangements for the exchange of ambassadors.
Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi called on the two parties to follow “long-term honesty and rationality” in their relations.
Emphasizing respect for the sovereignty of each other and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, the two countries also agreed on the implementation of the security cooperation agreement signed on April 1, 2001, as well as the general cooperation agreement signed on 5/27/1998.
In what could be seen as a sign of thaw in relations, Iran’s oil minister Javad Owji said the two neighboring countries will accelerate their cooperation in Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Abdulwahab al-Mahbashi, a spokesman of the Houti militia told Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV that the détente will have no impact on the Yemen war because the Houtis are not “subordinate” to Tehran. It has been long-established by both Arab and Western governments that Iran provided weapons to the rebels.
“Saudi Arabia must know that our relationship with Iran is not one of subordination. It is an Islamic brotherly relationship. Resolving the Yemen issue [can only be achieved through negotiations] between Sanaa and Riyadh, and not Tehran and Riyadh,” he said.
It has been long-established by both Arab and Western governments that Iran provided weapons to the Houthi militia.