Iran has agreed to stop sending weapons to its Houthi allies in Yemen as part of a deal to re-establish diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia that was brokered by China, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has reported, quoting US and Saudi officials.
Tehran’s move would hasten new efforts to achieve peace in Yemen, as it could put pressure on the militant group to reach a deal to end the conflict. A UN-sponsored truce in the country last year lasted only six months after the Houthis rejected calls for de-escalation and an extension to the ceasefire.
Tehran publicly denies that it supplies the Houthis with weapons, but UN inspectors have repeatedly traced seized weapons shipments back to Iran.
After last week’s rapprochement gestures by Saudi Arabia and Iran, officials from both countries said Iran would press the Houthis to end attacks on Saudi Arabia, the WSJ report noted.
Saudi Arabia expects Iran to respect a UN arms embargo meant to prevent weapons from reaching the Houthis, the report quoted a Saudi official as saying, and diminish the group’s ability to launch against the Kingdom and gain more ground in Yemen.
The agreement to resume Saudi-Iran relations “gives a boost to the prospect of a [Yemen] deal in the near future,” while Iran’s approach to the conflict will be “kind of a litmus test” for the success of last week’s diplomatic deal, according to a US official quoted by WSJ.
Hans Grundberg, the special UN envoy for Yemen, flew to Tehran this week to discuss with officials on how end the Yemen war and then on to Riyadh. Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian assured the UN diplomat that Tehran was ready to do more to help end the conflict in Yemen.
Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy to Yemen, also met with Saudi officials in an attempt to jumpstart peace talks.
Saudi Arabia and Iran also agreed to re-open their embassies and missions within two months, and affirmed ‘the respect for the sovereignty of states and the non-interference in internal affairs of states.’
The warming up of Saudi-Iran relations was widely welcomed by the global community, with the European Union, in a statement, noting: “As both Saudi Arabia and Iran are central for the security of the region, the resumption of their bilateral relations can contribute to the stabilization of the region as a whole.”