Iran works hard to broker peace in Yemen

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SHAFAQNA – Iran’s foreign minister on Friday submitted a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outlining a four-point peace plan for Yemen, where Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have been targeted for weeks by Saudi-led air strikes.

The plan, which Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced in Pakistan earlier this month, calls for an immediate ceasefire and end of all foreign military attacks, humanitarian assistance, a resumption of broad national dialogue and “establishment of an inclusive national unity government.”

“It is imperative for the international community to get more effectively involved in ending the senseless aerial attacks and establishing a ceasefire, ensuring delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance to the people of Yemen and restoring peace and stability to this country through dialogue and national reconciliation without pre-conditions,” said Zarif’s letter according to Reuters report.

Western and Arab diplomats in New York have shown little interest in the Iranian plan, saying they do not consider Iran a neutral peace broker in Yemen.

Arab states have been bombing the Houthis in support of militias resisting an advance by the group. The conflict, though rooted in local rivalries, has become a proxy battlefield for Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran, the main regional powers.

Iran warned that the instability is allowing terrorist groups to gain a foothold in Yemen.

“This critical situation is escalating and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is approaching catastrophic dimensions,” Zarif’s letter said.

“It may result in further exacerbation of the already tense circumstances in a region that has been plagued by one of the most barbaric types of extremism and (a) multi-pronged vicious campaign of foreign-backed terrorists,” it said.

Yemen is home to one of the most lethal branches of al Qaeda, sheltering in tribal regions and targeted for years by U.S. drone strikes.

A tribal group of former al Qaeda militants took control of a major southern oil terminal after military forces protecting it withdrew from the site in recent days.

The United Nations said about 150,000 people had been driven from their homes by three weeks of air strikes and ground fighting, with more than 750 people killed.

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