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Why Is Iran Insisting on Naming a Successor to Irlu in Sanaa?

Why Is Iran Insisting on Naming a Successor to Irlu in Sanaa?

Friday, 31 December, 2021 - 07:30
Members of Iranian forces carry the coffin of Hassan Irlu during a funeral ceremony in Tehran, Iran December 21, 2021. (West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

Iran declared on Monday its determination to a name successor to Hassan Irlu, its so-called ambassador in to the Houthi militias in Sanaa, in defiance of the legitimate Yemeni authorities and international community.

The announcement raises questions over Iran's insistence and how it will go about transporting the new envoy to Sanaa.

Irlu had died of the coronavirus earlier this month, said Iran. He was transported out of Yemen through an Iraqi-Omani mediation. He was flown to Iraq's Basra before later being taken to Tehran where he was announced dead.

Undersecretary of the Yemeni information ministry, Fayyad al-Numan said Iran is determined to appoint a successor to Irlu because it has "absolutely no trust" in the Houthis and their ability to lead military battles or manage politics.

Tehran always seeks to have the final word through a representative it appoints in Sanaa, he explained to Asharq Al-Awsat.

Iran will do everything it takes to send an envoy of its Revolutionary Guards to the Houthis so that he can act as the new ruler after Irlu's "mysterious" death, he added.

Yemeni journalist Mustafa Ghulais remarked that Iran's insistence on naming a new envoy reflects its ongoing military, economic, logistic and media support to the Houthis.

It is a message to the world that Iran is actually in control of Yemen and that the Houthis are subordinate to it, he added to Asharq Al-Awsat.

Moreover, he noted that Yemen has become a bargaining chip for Iran in its nuclear negotiations with the United States and world powers.

Ghulais said Tehran will name a new Sanaa envoy from the Revolutionary Guards, not its diplomatic corps.

On how the new appointee will be transported to Sanaa, he said that he may actually already be there and could have served as Irlu's aide or deputy. Another scenario could see the new envoy be transported by sea through Iran's weapons smuggling vessels.

Ghulais urged the Yemeni government to file a complaint to the United Nations over Iran's violation of diplomatic norms should it appoint a new representative to the Houthis.

He acknowledged that Iran will not be deterred by such a complaint, but "it is the least that could be done" in such a case.

Yemeni political analyst Mahmoud al-Taher said Iran will appoint a new military ruler in Yemen.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that reports of disputes between Tehran and the Houthis that preceded the announcement of Irlu's death were part of a deliberate misinformation campaign aimed at covering up for his transfer from Sanaa to Iran.

He noted how Iran announced that it would name a new envoy a day after the Saudi-led Arab coalition provided damning evidence of Tehran's involvement in Yemen.

Iran does not want a political solution in Yemen, he added.

By announcing it is naming a new envoy, it is assuring the Houthis that it will continue to support them, he explained.

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