Saudi Arabia, UAE broker truce between warring Yemeni factions

The Saudi-led coalition called on all Yemenis to focus on ridding the country of the Houthi militias.
Sunday 04/02/2018
Fighters from Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council sit in the back of a pickup truck in Aden, on January 28.  (AFP)
On shaky ground. Fighters from Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council sit in a pickup truck in Aden, on January 28. (AFP)

SANA'A - Yemen’s internationally recognised government’s makeshift capital of Aden became a battlefield between supporters of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and their allies-of-convenience, the secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC), that left dozens of people dead and hundreds injured.

The rift developed between the two factions that are part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-allied Houthis after the council demanded that Hadi dissolve his government over allegations of corruption and incompetence.

After a ceasefire brokered by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates restored relative calm, the Saudi-led coalition command centre called on all Yemenis to focus on ridding the country of the Houthi militias.

The centre’s statement said the Saudis and Emiratis “have no interests in Yemen other than having a secure and stable Yemen, able to develop and prosper.”

The statement added that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates stand by the “Yemeni people and reconciliation efforts among the Yemeni parties to maintain security and stability in Yemen as well as regional and international peace and security.”

The STC earlier declared a state of emergency in Aden and said it had begun the “process of overthrowing the legitimate government and replacing it with a cabinet of technocrats.”

“In Aden, legitimacy is being overturned,” Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher said in response.

On January 29, a week after the STC declaration, fighting broke out between the separatists and forces loyal to Hadi, with council forces seizing most of Aden before Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s intervention.

The two factions have a history with simmering tensions between STC Supreme Commander Aidarus al-Zubaidi and Hadi. The Yemeni president sacked Zubaidi as Aden governor last year, which led to Zubaidi joining forces with the southern separatists.

After the latest fighting subsided, Zubaidi pledged allegiance to Hadi but said: “We’ve asked the president to fire the government and appoint a caretaker government in its place.”

Many Southern Yemenis feel exploited by leaders in the north, mainly the late former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his associates. The anti-Saleh sentiment led to the formation of the Southern Mobility Movement in 2007, which has the re-establish­ment of South Yemen as an independent state as its main goal.

Sources said a reshuffle in the internationally recognised government is likely to deal with the situation.

They said they expected the appointment of a vice-president and new prime minister, with one of the two positions likely to go to former Aden Governor Abdulaziz al-Muflehi, a Hadi adviser, who travelled to Riyadh from Moscow after being urgently recalled.

This is not the only instance of infighting that has happened in the 3-year-old war. A falling out between the Houthi rebels and Saleh led to the former president’s death at the hands of his one-time allies.