Slowed by Blockade, Iran Envoy in Yemen Dies of Covid

Iran to file protest over Saudi foot-dragging

The subject of several media reports over the past week, Iranian Ambassador to Yermen Hassan Irloo died on Tuesday of a Covid-19 infection. His fate is expected to be a serious diplomatic controversy.

Irloo had been in Sanaa with the Houthis, and the situation came to international attention when the Houthis began pushing the Saudis to allow him to return to Iran.

This started idle speculation that the Houthis and Iran were on worsening terms, but it was quickly clarified that Irloo had Covid and needed to return to Iran for medical treatment.

Diplomats are meant to be allowed to travel freely, but the Saudi blockade of Yemen doesn’t discriminate, blocking food and diplomats alike. Saudi officials finally let Irloo leave, but they were clearly dragging their feet.

Iranian officials are now saying if the Saudis hadn’t been so slow, Irloo could’ve gotten treatment sooner and might have lived. Though the Saudis likely don’t mind having killed a diplomat, violation of international conventions on diplomatic travel could be an issue for them.

The death also brings renewed attention to the Saudi blockade, which has been causing medical shortages and starvation for years in Yemen. The use of food imports as a weapon is a serious embarrassment for those involved, and despite claims of improvements, they clearly are still at issue.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of