Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said recent drone attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure were a proportionate Yemeni response to years of daily bombings carried out by a Saudi-led coalition.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara following three-way talks between the presidents of Turkey, Russia and Iran, Rouhani suggested the drone attacks were a legitimate act of self-defense.
“On a daily basis Yemen is being bombarded and innocent civilians are dying … so they have to retaliate,” Rouhani explained.
Yemeni people are exercising their legitimate right of defense … the attacks were a reciprocal response to aggression against Yemen for years.
Rouhani added his hope that the conflict in Yemen would be resolved through diplomacy, and said that such a process might even mirror Syria’s Astana talks.
Addressing the same question, Turkish President Recep Erdogan also pointed out that it was Saudi Arabia who’d started the cycle of attacks. He said the international community should inquire into the causes of Yemen’s crisis, noting the country had been “basically destroyed” during its four-year conflict, and called on other world powers to consider how to rebuild Yemen “from scratch” and “put it back on its feet.”
While Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said the drone attacks had not been discussed at Monday’s meeting, he noted the “humanitarian catastrophe” in the country and urged a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
The war in Yemen began in earnest in March 2015, when a coalition of states, led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the US and Britain, launched a bombing campaign in an attempt to defeat the rebel Houthi movement and restore the rule of President Mansour Hadi, who’d been ousted in 2014. In addition to tens of thousands killed in the fighting, the conflict has sparked one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, leaving millions without food, water or healthcare, and dependent on international aid.