The Prime Minister of Yemen's Houthi-led National Salvation Government (NSG) yesterday denounced the surprise visit by US ambassador to Yemen, Christopher Henzel, to the country's eastern province of Al-Mahra earlier this week.
Dr Abdulaziz Bin Habtoor branded Henzel's meeting with Muhammad Ali Yasser, the governor of Mahra under the Saudi-backed internationally-recognised government of exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, as a provocation.
Bin Habtoor told Al-Masirah that the arrival of the American diplomat "exposes the reality of the Saudi presence in Al-Mahra as a prelude to the arrival of US forces," adding: "The so-called Saudi-led coalition is nothing but a tool to achieve US-Zionist interests in the first place."
The meeting, which coincided with Yemen's Independence Day celebrations, reportedly involved discussions surrounding developments in the on terrorism and allegations of Iran smuggling arms to the pro-Houthi military.
The Saudi military presence in the province has caused tensions with local tribes who perceive it as an occupation. According to Bin Habtoor: "The focus of the occupation projects on the governorates of Hadhramaut and Al-Maharah falls within the context of a Zionist project in the region," which he argued is evident in the reports that Israel is seeking to establish a spy base on the island of Socotra which is under the effective control of the UAE-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC).
"The battle with the Zionist axis will be a fateful and long-term battle," he added.
On Tuesday, Bin Habtoor labelled the STC as mercenaries and referred to their ambitions to revive a South Yemen state as a "colonial project" which was ended by the 14 October revolutionaries who forced the British out from Aden and other southern cities.
Last week the NSG official also called on southern Yemenis to rise up against the joint Saudi and Emirati occupation of parts of the country, "The tragic situation in Aden and other occupied provinces and cities require the honest people in the south with support from the free people across Yemen to rise against the occupiers and their criminal and puppet militias."