Hassan Irloo, Iranian Ambassador to parts of Yemen controlled by the Houthis, died of complications related to COVID-19. Earlier, he was evacuated from the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which caused rumors of disputes between Tehran and the Houthi movement (Ansar Allah) in Yemen.
Hassan Irloo left Yemen on December 18 by Iraqi military plane through an Omani-Iraqi mediation and following the agreement from Riyadh, which de facto control the airspace over Yemen. According to several reports, he first headed to Baghdad and then arrived in Tehran to receive treatment to his COVID-19 infection.
Unfortunately, the measures taken were not sufficient and he passed away early in the morning on December 21.
His death was announced by the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Said Khatibzadeh:
“Unfortunately, due to the belated cooperation of some countries, he returned to the country in an unfavorable state,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Said Khatibzadeh said.
Despite the official claims from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the real reasons of the Irloo’s evacuation, some sources rumored that it was caused by growing strains between Tehran and the Houthis.
The kingdom cast Mr. Irloo’s departure as a sign of friction between the Houthis and Tehran. The speculations were dismissed both by Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman with Iran’s Foreign Ministry, and Mohamed Abdelsalam, a Houthi spokesman.
The Wall Street Journal reported: “The Saudis said Mr. Irloo showed no signs he was seriously ill from Covid-19. Instead, Saudi officials said, Mr. Irloo’s influence in Yemen bolstered a negative perception in the country that the militant force answers to Tehran.”
Iran is the only country that has diplomatic relations with the rebel Houthi government which controls Sanaa and much of the north of Yemen. Mr Irloo was appointed as Iran’s ambassador to Sanaa in October 2020. Iran’s previous ambassador left Sanaa in 2015.
There is no official information how he got into the country. In time, Yemeni officials claimed that Irloo had been smuggled into Yemen.
Washington accused him of being a member of the radical Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Hassan Irloo has played a key diplomatic and military role in Iranian relations with Yemen. He reportedly worked closely with the Houthis in the political and military spheres.
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- Military Situation In Yemen On December 19, 2021 (Map Update)