Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said that last week’s assassination of Saudi diplomat Khaled Anzi in Sanaa will not affect the relations between Sanaa and Riyadh.
He said that incidents targeting Saudi diplomats in Yemen will only “consolidate the relation between the two countries, as it is based on a mutual strong desire to fight terrorism and extremism. The Saudi side is cooperating with us to follow up on the case.”
In a telephone interview with Al-Hayat, Qirbi said that “obviously there are certain individuals behind the repeated attacks on Saudi diplomats. They could be terrorist members from al-Qaeda. However, the joint security committee between the two countries will reveal who is behind the attack and whether those involved are parties to a conflict.”
In response to a question about whether there were joint security committees with the kingdom to fight against terrorism in Yemen, he said that “we have major security coordination with the kingdom. However, there are no Saudi counter-terrorism committees in Yemen, as this is the responsibility of the Yemeni security services alone, but there is major coordination in this regard.”
Moreover, the Yemeni senior official denied that al-Qaeda has controlled vital parts of his country. “Whoever believes that al-Qaeda took hold of major cities in the country is misreading facts. We have won in Shabwa and Abyan and now these members are being pursued and are in a vulnerable position before the government.”
He also said he believes the recent statements by Rachid Ghannouchi, head of the Tunisian Ennahda movement, regarding the Gulf initiative show he is “seeking media attention.”
“If we were to heed every statement that is made, our relations with the kingdom would have faltered long ago. However, our relations are growing stronger by the day. We do not see Ghannouchi’s statements as an interference in the internal affairs of Yemen. Rather, they are an attempt to target the relations between the two countries,” Qirbi said.
Regarding the accusations made in October by the Yemeni president against Iran, in which [Hadi said Iran] supports the division of Yemen, Qirbi said “our relations with Iran faltered due to its positions. We deal with Tehran in a diplomatic manner. We have reports about Iranian espionage cells that were finally seized. We will make an announcement when the current investigations are conducted.”
In response to a question whether his country will decide to sever ties with Iran, he said “we will talk about this when the right time comes.”