Gulf Arab states urge bigger international role in Yemen crisis

Reuters , Saturday 7 Feb 2015

Shi'ite Houthi rebels (Photo:Reuters)

Concerned Gulf Arab nations called on the international community to take a stronger position on Yemen and expressed concern about Iranian influence amid the political instability there, a senior State Department official said on Friday after meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

However, no plans were made to contact Tehran about the situation during talks between Kerry and foreign ministers and senior officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain, the official added.

"There was a feeling that the international community needed to take a stronger position, either through the U.N. or another multilateral organization," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"There was concern about Iranian influence but no one discussed getting in touch with the Iranians," the official said, adding that there was also talk about more Security Council meetings on Yemen.

The official said there was "considerable" discussion about diplomatic and security measures that could be taken to stabilize Yemen.

Yemen's Houthi movement on Friday dissolved parliament and said a new interim assembly and government would be formed, a move denounced by a main political faction as a coup.

Yemen's instability has drawn international concern as it shares a long border with top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia, and the country is also fighting one of the most formidable branches of al Qaeda with the help of U.S. drone strikes.

Meanwhile, the official also said the UAE reaffirmed its commitment to the U.S.-led coalition conducting air strikes against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and said there would be "positive news on the flight issues" in coming days.

The UAE suspended flights after concerns about search and rescue capabilities after the downing, and eventual killing, of a Jordanian pilot during a mission in Syria.

"I think it's fair to say they reaffirmed their commitment to the coalition and suggested that there was going to be positive news on the flight issue within the next few days," the official said, adding later it would be within the "next couple of days."

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