Middle East

Yemen accuses Iran of arming southern separatist group

President of Yemen Abed Rabbuh Mansur Hadi speaks during a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on October 4, 2012. (AFP PHOTO / HANNIBAL HANSCHKE)

DUBAI: President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi has accused Iran of backing a faction of Yemen’s southern separatist movement seeking to secede by force, a newspaper reported Friday. “In the south, there are two movements: a peaceful one and another, which is not,” the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat quoted him as saying.

“The latter resorts to the use of weapons, receives Iranian assistance and works for secession” of south Yemen, which was a separate state until 1990, Hadi charged.

Sunni-majority Yemen and Shiite-dominated Iran have often regarded each other with mutual suspicion. Sanaa suspects Tehran of supporting rebels of the Shiite Zaidi sect in north Yemen.

“I’m president of Yemen and I’m from the south, just like Prime Minister Mohammad Basindawa who is also a southerner. We advocate national and global dialogue to bring Yemen out of its current situation, which is incompatible with 21st century norms,” Hadi added.

A national dialogue conference is due to begin in November as part of Yemen’s transition process from the rule of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, ousted in February after a popular uprising.

Southern separatists and Zaidis, who have been fighting in the north against Sanaa since 2004 have been invited to the conference.

The Zaidis said they would participate, but the Southern Movement announced Wednesday it “refuses to take part” in the dialogue.

Some factions of the Southern Movement want autonomy for the south, but more hardline members are pressing for a return to complete independence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 06, 2012, on page 11.




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