Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani, Iran’s permanent representative to the United Nations, has accused the U.S. and the U.K. of declaring war against the Yemeni people after two nights of joint airstrikes on the country.
The strikes targeted positions of the Houthi movement—officially known as Ansarullah—that, since 2014, has been at war with the internationally recognized government backed by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition. The Houthis have long maintained close ties with Tehran and are widely considered to be part of Iran’s regional “Axis of Resistance.”
In response to Israel’s war on Gaza—itself a response to the surprise October 7 infiltration attack by Hamas in southern Israel—the Houthis have been attacking shipping in the Red Sea. The U.S. and its allies responded by launching a new maritime security operation, which this week broadened to include airstrikes on Houthi targets.
The Houthis—who have weathered almost a decade of war with America’s Gulf partners—have vowed retaliation.
In an exclusive interview with Newsweek, Iravani said that “any country engaging in this military aggression or subsequent hostilities may expose itself to potential danger.”
Newsweek: How does Iran perceive the joint U.S.-British airstrikes on Houthi positions in Yemen?
Iravani: The actions taken by the United States and the U.K. in attacking Yemen constitute a flagrant violation of national sovereignty, a breach of international law, and a transgression of the United Nations Charter, ultimately amounting to a declaration of war against the Yemeni people. This military aggression is indicative of the success of the Israeli regime’s lobbying in Washington to draw the U.S. into direct war and exacerbate the spill-over of conflicts to other parts of the region.
Despite the Israeli regime falling short of achieving most of its stated objectives in the Gaza war, it seeks a more-extensive crisis than the Gaza conflict to facilitate a so-called face-saving exit from the current quagmire.
The Israeli regime’s demands from the United States extend beyond a mere solicitation for weapons, intelligence, financial, and political support; instead, it encompasses a desire for direct participation in the war, carefully delineated by a division of labor.
Specifically, the regime envisions that the conflicts in Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria fall under its jurisdiction, while the wars in Iraq and Yemen are to be associated with the United States. Compelling evidence suggests that the regime has effectively maneuvered to involve the U.S. in these conflicts, aligning with its own interests.
Newsweek: Will the U.S.-U.K. military action improve the security situation for commercial shipping in the Red Sea region, and in the broader Middle East?
Iravani: A proverbial wisdom asserts that one cannot wash off blood with blood. An essential query arises: when did the Red Sea transition into an insecure domain, and what factors contributed to this shift? The unequivocal response points directly to the unfolding war in Gaza. The safety concerns surrounding the Red Sea are intricately tied to the developments in Gaza. The precise details of how and why this transformation occurred warrant a comprehensive examination in the context of the ongoing events in the besieged Gaza Strip.
In a situation where international mechanisms display a lack of both the will and capability to halt the ongoing crimes in Gaza, and the very fact that the region is under a stringent siege, with essential supplies such as fuel and food being denied to the people of Gaza, a severe humanitarian crisis unfolds. In response to this dire circumstance, Yemen’s Ansarullah Movement, driven by a sense of human duty, has assumed the role of defending the oppressed Palestinian nation.
It has declared that all shipping lines in the Red Sea waterway are secure, except for vessels associated with Israel or engaged in the transportation of goods to or from Israel. This pronouncement positions Ansarullah Yemen as a proponent of humanitarian principles, seeking to defend the oppressed people of Palestine.
However, in light of the recent aggression and as a prospective outcome, it is anticipated that any country engaging in this military aggression or subsequent hostilities may expose itself to potential danger, or to be considered as a justified operational target by the Ansarullah Movement.
Newsweek: There have long been accusations of Iranian backing for the Houthis, whether through military training, weapon supplies, or other forms of support. Does Iran consider this American-British attack on the Houthis to be an attack on the wider “Axis of Resistance”?
Iravani: We perceive the arms embargo resolution imposed on Yemen as unjust and oppressive, akin to a situation wherein stones are tethered, and [instead] dogs are set loose. Despite our reservations about the fairness of this resolution, we acknowledge our responsibility as a conscientious UN Member State and adhere to its provisions.
For the past eight years, Ansarullah has endured an all-out siege, encompassing land, air, and sea. Despite facing this protracted embargo and blockade, Yemen has demonstrated resilience by relying on its internal capacities. Since the commencement of the war on Yemen in 2015, Ansarullah initially depended on the weapons stockpiles inherited from the former Yemeni army, which were predominantly imported.
Remarkably, over the years, Ansarullah has evolved into a formidable regional force, achieving self-sufficiency in advanced domestically manufactured weaponry.
Newsweek: What is the danger of subsequent escalation by the Houthis or by groups sympathetic to their cause—including those aligned with Iran—elsewhere in the region who have been angered by the U.S.-U.K. action?
Iravani: While the resistance groups in Iraq and Lebanon are integral to their respective governments, with decisions subject to governmental considerations, Ansarullah stands apart as an independent government possessing national sovereignty.
Notably, Ansarullah operates with a distinctive status, enjoying the highest level of support from its people. In the aftermath of the recent aggression, within a few hours, millions of Yemeni people took to the streets to express their unwavering support for their government’s policy, concurrently expressing disdain towards America and Israel.
Considering this significant show of support, it is anticipated that other resistance groups may not recognize the necessity to extend operational assistance to Ansarullah in this critical juncture. That is despite the fact that Ansarullah, fortified by the backing of its people and the demonstrated capacity and strength, can defend its nation and its citizens effectively.