Gulf Arab states urge bigger international role in Yemen crisis, as blast hits Yemeni capital

A Houthi militiaman stands guard as a forensic expert (R) inspects the scene of a blast near the republican palace in Sanaa February 7, 2015. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

(Reuters) – Concerned Gulf Arab nations called on the international community to take a stronger position on Yemen and expressed concern about Iranian influence amid the political instability there, a senior State Department official said on Friday after meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

However, no plans were made to contact Tehran about the situation during talks between Kerry and foreign ministers and senior officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain, the official added.

“There was a feeling that the international community needed to take a stronger position, either through the U.N. or another multilateral organization,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“There was concern about Iranian influence but no one discussed getting in touch with the Iranians,” the official said, adding that there was also talk about more Security Council meetings on Yemen…

Related: Gulf countries condemn Houthi takeover in Yemen as a ‘coup’ (Don’t forget that the Houthis are Shi’ites).

Meanwhile, U.N. ready to take ‘further steps’ if Yemen talks not resumed

Finally, NYT has a Q & A:


A: They are a modern Shiite tribal movement rooted in northern Yemen along the nation’s border with Saudi Arabia. Their name honors their first military commander, Hussein al-Houthi, who launched an anti-government rebellion following the U.S. invasion of Iraq with the aim of toppling Yemen’s pro-Western government. He was killed by Yemen’s army in 2004. Houthis again took part in the 2011 Arab Spring rebellion against the government of then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but rejected a compromise plan that passed power to Saleh’s successor, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. They since have consolidated their military hold over Yemen’s northern provinces and, in September 2014, moved south to seize control of the capital, Sanaa, and other major cities.


A: Without support from the two-thirds of the population that is Sunni Muslim, it will be difficult and dangerous, running the risk of provoking civil war…