Armed men loyal to the Houthi movement wave their weapons as they gather to protest against the Saudi-backed exiled government deciding to cut off the Yemeni central bank from the outside world, in the capital Sanaa, Yemen August 25, 2016. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: In a further provocation amid an American peace push in Yemen, Al Houthi militants are planning to send a delegation to Tehran to seek more funds from their chief backer, according to Arabic press reports.

This comes despite US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statements in Jeddah criticising Iranian support of Al Houthis.

Kerry confirmed Iran had shipped weapons to the militant group and warned Tehran that it must stop.

The visit, if confirmed, would be an escalation and a sign that Al Houthis are opting to escalate the conflict despite the peace bid.

“If true the Kuwait negotiations have reached its end,” Mu’taz Salameh, head of the Gulf Programme at the Cairo-based Al Ahram Political and Strategic Studies Centre told Gulf News.

In a report published by Al Khaleej, an Arabic-language newspaper based in the UAE, quoted sources close to Al Houthis as saying the delegation would also be seeking Iraqi and Syrian political support to their recently formed political council in Sana’a.

“I wouldn’t exclude this possibility,” said Aden-based Yemeni political analyst Fadel Al Rabei commenting on the reports.

“Al Houthis have been politically active recently. They feel they achieved international recognition after being invited to take part in the peace negotiations in Kuwait in the past several months,” said Al Rabei in an interview with Gulf News.

Political scientists said the reports showed “publically and undoubtedly” the relations between the militias and Iran.

“Recognition from Syria and Iraq carries no real political importance given the political situation of both countries but it would have symbolic significance,” Salameh said.

“It shows they are publicly flouting their alliance with Iran and playing an active role in supporting the sectarian polarisation of the region between Sunnis led by Saudi Arabia and Shiites led by Iran,” he added.

Several Arab governments have repeatedly accused Iran of supporting Al Houthis.

“We see Iran supporting Al Houthis in Yemen and trying to take over the government, supply weapons to Al Houthis, smuggle explosives to Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia,” Saudi Foreign Minsiter Adel Al Jubair said Wednesday in Beijing.

“We wish we could be as good neighbours like before the 1979 revolution,” Al Jubeir said. “It’s up to Iran to mend its behaviour.”

The Saudi foreign minister also told Reuters in an interview that Saudi Arabia would not let Al Houthis take over Yemen.

“What is certain, not questionable, certain, they will not be allowed to take over Yemen. Period. So the legitimate government will be defended,” Al Jubeir said.

“The chance they have is to enter the political process, reach an agreement ... for the benefit of all Yemenis including Al Houthis,” he said.