Despite growing concerns in the United States and the Arab world about Iran’s destabilizing role in the region, Iranian leaders continue to defend the country’s subversive policies in the Yemeni conflict.
On December 19, Iran’s foreign ministry said, “The issue of Iran's influence in Yemen, if any, is no way related to [US Secretary of State John] Kerry and (Saudi Foreign Minister Adel) al-Jubeir." The ministry’s spokesman, Bahram Ghassemi, also rejected Kerry’s claims that he had discussed with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, about ways to resolve the Yemeni crisis. "We have not and don’t have any negotiations with the US side on any issue other than the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the 2015 Iran nuclear deal], and the regional issues were not and will not be a subject for our negotiations with the US," he emphasized.
When Iran signed the nuclear agreement with world powers last year, many proponents of the deal hoped that the accord would encourage the clerical regime in Tehran to moderate its hegemonic and destabilizing actions in the Middle East, especially in the conflict zones such as in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. But more than one year since the signing of the deal, Iran’s support for militant groups across the region has only intensified. And as Ghassemi’s remarks indicate, the regime in Tehran – including the so-called “moderate” Rouhani government – is unwilling to change its foreign policy course and work with regional and Western governments to resolve conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and beyond.