A Yemeni soldier stands guard as supporters of Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh, the son of Yemeni former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, gather for a staged demonstration in Sana’a, Yemen, Tuesday. Image Credit: AP

Tehran: Iran warned on Tuesday of possible “disintegration or civil war” in Yemen, criticising President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi for leaving the capital Sana’a and basing himself in the southern city of Aden.

The comments, by deputy foreign minister Hussain Amir Abdollahian, came after the Gulf nations agreed to Hadi’s request to host talks in Riyadh aimed at pulling Yemen out of political crisis.

Abdollahian told the ISNA news agency: “Sana’a is the official and historical capital of Yemen and those in Aden who back disintegration or civil war are responsible for the consequences.

“Yemen’s outgoing president would have done better to stay in Sana’a and keep to his resignation letter and not lead the country into crisis.”

Iran is accused of having contributed to the seizure of power in Sana’a by Al Houthi militia, but Tehran has rejected accusations of interference.

Tehran “supports the unity, independence and a wide national dialogue in Yemen,” Abdollahian said.

Hadi tendered his resignation to parliament in January but parliament never convened and he withdrew it after escaping to Aden last month, saying he quit under duress from Al Houthis.

Zaydi Muslims, the group Al Houthis belong to, represent about a third of the Yemeni population.

Hadi asked the Gulf countries to host talks after failing to reach agreement with the militia and their backers on a venue inside Yemen.

The six Gulf states are deeply suspicious of the Al Houthis, fearing they will take Yemen into Iran’s orbit.

UN-brokered reconciliation talks, which had been taking place in Sana’a, broke down after Hadi’s flight to Aden.

Yemen, on the frontline in the US war against Al Qaida, has been gripped by unrest since longtime president Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in early 2012 after a bloody year-long uprising.

Several Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, have moved their embassies to Aden after an exodus of foreign diplomats from Sana’a in February over security concerns.