Details of ‘mechanism’ to implement Yemen’s Riyadh agreement fleshed out
ADEN – Soon after a Saudi official announced that the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) reached an understanding on a mechanism to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh agreement signed between the two parties last November, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi issued a package of presidential decisions.
President Hadi mandated the current Yemeni Prime Minister, Mueen Abdul-Malik, to form a new government of 24 cabinet members divided equally between the north and the south in accordance with the provisions of the Riyadh Agreement.
For his part, the Secretary-General of the Southern Transitional Council appointed Ahmed Hamid Lelis as governor of Aden and Brigadier General Ahmed Muhammad Qahtan as chief of police of the Yemeni interim capital.
Saudi, UAE efforts
The Arab Weekly had already reported that the government and the STC were able to overcome their differences concerning the implementation of the Riyadh agreement. These reports were confirmed Wednesday, through the announcement by a Saudi official source that the Saudi government has suggested “a mechanism to accelerate the implementation of the agreement through the adoption of executive points that include the continued observance of the ceasefire and stopping the escalation by the legitimate government and the Southern Transitional Council.”
Also included in this mechanism were “the Southern Transitional Council’s announcement that it abandons self-rule; the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement; the appointment of a governor and security director for the governorate of Aden; tasking his excellency the Prime Minister of Yemen to form a politically qualified cabinet within 30 days; removing all military forces from Aden and out of the governorate;separating the forces of the two parties in Abyan and returning them to their prior positions; issuing the decision to form a cabinet representing equally the north and the south, including the ministers nominated by the Southern Transitional Council, and upon completing this step, the cabinet members will immediately start their jobs in Aden; and continuing to complete the implementation of all the points and paths prescribed by the Riyadh Agreement.”
The statement published by the official Saudi News Agency indicated that Saudi Arabia’s efforts, in conjunction with the UAE, to bring together the parties to the Riyadh agreement back to the negotiating table in Riyadh have succeeded to make both sides accept this mechanism and agree to apply it “to overcome the existing obstacles and accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh agreement.”
Following the official Saudi statement, Nizar Haitham, the spokesperson for the STC, said in a press conference that the STC supports the efforts of the Arab coalition in implementing the Riyadh agreement. He also announced the STC’s abandonment of self-rule in response to the request made by Saudi Arabia’s and UAE’s leaders and out of commitment to ensuring the success of the efforts of the leaders of the two brotherly countries “to implement the Riyadh agreement, achieve security and stability, and unify the collective efforts to confront the Houthi militias and terrorist groups, as well as develop the southern governorates.”
“We have overcome a very difficult stage, more than seven months of attempts at spreading chaos led by parties in the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Reform Party, and which were the main reason behind the delay in implementing the Riyadh agreement,” Nizar Haitham added.
In a statement to The Arab Weekly, Haitham pointed out that the implementation of the agreement stalled after signing it last November, as a result of “the attempt by some parties in the legitimate government to postpone the implementation of the political part of the agreement and pre-empt the military part, in violation of the time schedule of the Riyadh agreement, before this imbalance was corrected today.”
About the potential repercussions now that the crisis of implementing the Riyadh agreement has been solved, the STC’s spokesperson added that “it will contribute very significantly to resolving the situation, and to the ability of the southerners to be serious partners on their land, and therefore, the fears that were previously present and the attempt to demonise their military and security forces, and also the attempt to exclude the influential southern leaders, who believe in the cause of the south, will come to an end.”
The STC’s spokesman appreciated the role of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the success of those efforts that resulted in the resumption of the Riyadh agreement. “We will strive to be united in facing the conspiracy projects led by Turkey and Qatar, and we shouldn’t also forget the Houthis who support Iran and try to block any peace agreements in the region,” he added.
Salem Thabet al-Awlaqi, a member of the STC’s Presidency Council, told The Arab Weekly that the declaration regarding the mechanism to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement marked the beginning of the process of implementing the provisions of agreement according to a timeline “that strives to unify the efforts of all parties in confronting the Houthi militias and terrorist groups and thwarting the regional projects that threaten the stability of the region and its future, and Arab national security, foremost among which are the Iranian, Turkish and Qatari projects.”
Yemeni political researcher Mansour Saleh considered the concurrent declarations on the mechanisms of implementing the Riyadh Agreement, as well as the announcement by the STC that it welcomed the Saudi mechanism as an affirmation of the STC’s keenness to “implement the Riyadh agreement in a manner that guarantees peace and develop solutions that satisfy all parties regarding the cause of the people of the south, as well as the desire to unite the internal frontin the face of the Houthi militias.”
“We hope that the Yemeni government will meet the keenness of the other parties to implement the Riyadh agreement with similar interest and show seriousness and credibility in implementing this agreement that the STC dealt with positively by making many concessions, the last of which was to abandon its previous decision of self-rule,” Saleh added to The Arab Weekly.
Pressure on the Houthis
For its part, the Yemeni government welcomed the Saudi declaration on a mechanism to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement. In a statement to The Arab Weekly, the Undersecretary of the Yemeni Ministry of Information, Najib Ghellab, described the start of the implementation of the Riyadh agreement as the onset of important transformations on several levels, the most important of which is rebuilding the legitimate government to enable it to carry out its tasks and address the shortcomings. Moreover, restoring balance to its structure will enable it to carry out its tasks and achieve the goals of the battle, while the agreement will put an end to the false aspirations of any party to deal with the legitimate government as if it were their private property.
Ghallab pointed out that starting the implementation of the agreement will place Qatar and its networks in a major predicament “after they had failed to impede its implementation through inflaming public opinion, deforming the agreement, slandering the coalition, the government, and the STC, and trying to deflect the battle towards blowing up the liberated areas to serve the Houthis.”
“The agreement will move many of the battle tracks towards active and strong pressure on the Houthis, and will make confronting corruption as well as the sabotage and terrorism networks more effective and organised. Reactivating the state institutions and consolidating their authority will unite the will of all anti-Houthi forces, and this will dissipate and undermine the propaganda of Qatar and the (Muslim) Brotherhood regarding the STC and the role of the coalition,” he added.
Despite the official optimism expressed by all parties regarding the resumption of the Riyadh agreement, many challenges remain in its path, according to observers. At the top of these are the potential anti-agreement actions from within the government’s institutions by the pro-Qatar current that has been working throughout the past period to block the implementation of the agreement by questioning it.
In this context, the resigned Minister of Transport, Saleh al-Jabwani, attacked the Saudi declaration about reaching a mechanism to accelerate the implementation of the agreement. He wrote on Twitter that the STC’s self-rule was “an illegal decision by a group of rebels who seized Aden, and they are failing on the ground; so why should Nizar Haitham be celebrating the rescinding of this decision and officially offering them Aden by republican orders?”