Three days after evacuations, Iranian ambassador Hassan Eyrlou to Yemen dies of Coronavirus in Tehran. Iran holds Saudi Arabia responsible for belated flight permission.
Iran‘s ambassador to Yemen dies two days after a procrastinated flight back to Tehran on Tuesday. Hassan Eyrlou had contracted coronavirus in Yemen and due to his physical condition, he needed more urgent medical treatment.
Iranian ambassador flew back from Yemen three days earlier following weeks of disputes. Saudi-led coalition allowed his flights back after incessant follow-up by Iranian officials. Yemen has been under Saudi blockade for years after the start of Riyadh’s offensive against the Yemeni popular uprising in the wake of the Arab Spring.
Iranian officials believe that the Saudi blockade and its failure to facilitate the evacuation are the reasons behind Eyrlou’s death. Saudi Arabia has responded to calls for the evacuation arrangement only multiple days after the deterioration of ambassador’s health condition.
Following six years of war, devastation, and blockade, Yemen’s medical system has almost collapsed. Saudi Arabia continues to impose the blockade despite international calls for its termination to facilitate the transference of Humanitarian aids.
Yemen is experiencing the “worst humanitarian crisis” as the UN observed following Saudi-led coalition to overthrow the Houthi movement. Following the Yemeni revolution after the 2012 uprising, the Houthi movement took control over large parts of the country.
Saudi Arabia, along with Arab partners and the US launched an all-out offensive against Yemen to revive the Hadi government. A war than meant to end in weeks lasted for almost seven years fulfilling none of Riyadh’s objectives.
The result was the devastation of Yemen by air strikes while hundreds of thousands lost their lives and millions left misplaced. On the other side, Saudi Arabia faced recurrent threats against its infrastructure by the Houthi movement.
Iranian Ambassador; One Among Many
The first reaction by Iranian foreign ministry to the death of Hassan Eyrlou concerned his belated transfer to Tehran. Spokesperson Saeed KhatibZadeh referred to the late cooperation by “some states” as the underlying reason behind Eyrlou’s death.
Khatibzadeh’s reference was to the arrangements with Saudi Arabia which has kept Yemen under air blockade in recent years. Last Saturday, western media outlets confirmed the evacuation of Iranian ambassador following days of arrangements.
According to the reports, Iraq and Oman mediated arrangements for the evacuation at Houthi movement’s request. Iraq has been hosting the de-escalation talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia since the early months of the current year.
Houthi spokesman in Sanaa confirmed the Saudi consent to the transference following long days of arrangements. Saudi officials also confirmed the exemption issued for the Iranian ambassador. “The ambassador left on an Iraqi aircraft and is probably now in Baghdad,” a Saudi authority said on Saturday.
Hassan Eyrlou has been delegated to Sanaa since last October as Iranian ambassador to the country. As one of the rare countries to officially recognized the Yemen administration, Tehran has started diplomatic ties with the Houthi movement since then.
Saudi Arabia has made attempts to refer to the evacuation as an indication of Tehran’s tarnishing ties with the established government in Sanaa. A day later, however, Saudi official acknowledged medical condition as the underlying reason. “Iranians told us through the Omanis that their ambassador had contracted Covid and must get out,” a Saudi official said.
The 6-year long blockade against Yemen has put the country on the verge of a humanitarian disaster. The death of Iranian ambassador due to the Saudi blockade may attract the attentions to the suffering of the people in Yemen after long years of shortages and famine.