Tehran’s new ambassador to Sanaa’s government in Yemen works directly under Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and has a long history of bribing members of the Houthi group giving him leverage to act as a supreme leader in Yemen, a former Houthi politburo official said on Saturday.
Iran has for years backed the Shia Houthi movement in Yemen, supplying them with money and arms. It also champions the Houthis as part of its regional “axis of resistance”, and the movement has adopted elements of Tehran’s revolutionary ideology.
Ali al-Bukhaiti, an ex-Houthi minister of information currently living in exile in London, detailed how he met the new Iranian ambassador Hassan Eyrlo in Lebanon, and how they traveled from Beirut to Qatar and then to Tehran.
#ثريد— علي البخيتي (@Ali_Albukhaiti) October 30, 2020
١- أعرف "حسن إيرلو" السفير الإيراني لدى الحوثيين جيدًا، التقيته في لبنان أكثر من مرة، كما سافرت في إحدى المرات إلى إيران بدعوة منه على رأس وفد من الصحفيين والكتاب "رجال ونساء" ونزلنا في أحد فنادق طهران في عام ٢٠١٤م، كنيته أو إسمه الحركي "أبو حسن"، وهو مسؤول الملف اليمني. pic.twitter.com/gW96pPedu4
“He arranged for a tour of the Khomeini mausoleum, Khomeini’s house and other places. He also took me to Khamenei’s house where I performed group Friday prayers led by Khamenei himself,” Bukhaiti said in a thread of tweets.
Bukhaiti said that Eyrlo is in charge of the “Yemen file” in Iran and that his code name is “Abu Hassan.”
The former Houthi official said Eyrlo worked directly with Khamenei’s office, and despite being an ambassador, he “had no ties whatsoever to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was not among its diplomatic ranks.”
Bukhaiti added that Eyrlo was also a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), but he did not know his rank or the positions he held.
“The appointment of Eyrlo as an ambassador to Sanaa’s government run by Houthis has dangerous implications given his relationships with most of the Houthi leaders,” Bukhaiti said.
“He used to host them [Houthi leaders] and give them amounts of money in Beirut and Iran… He has an influence over them given that he saved them from hunger and poverty.”
Bukhaiti also claims that some Houthi members used to get extra allowances from Eyrlo behind the back of Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi. Bukhaiti adds that some members fear they were videotaped receiving those amounts of money.
“His appointment is a smart Iranian move, allowing Tehran to have a strong controlling hand inside Yemen. It’s a hand that gave senior Houthi leaders hundreds of thousands of dollars when they could not find thousands of Yemeni riyals which had little value. It’s a hand that took them to hotels in Tehran and Beirut and onboard Qatar Airways, when all they knew were the mountains, cliffs, and donkeys of Saada,” Bukhaiti said.
Bukhaiti added: “Eyrlo’s appointment as ambassador is just cover for the real role he will play in Yemen. He is, in fact, the vali-ye faqih, the Imam Ali Khamenei in Yemen, and you can picture what a pivotal role he is entrusted with.”