STC forces make major advances in southern Yemen

According to reports, government forces were surprised by the STC’s defensive capabilities.
Friday 15/05/2020
Fighters from of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) during clashes in the Sheikh Salim area in the southern Abyan province. (AFP)
Fighters from of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) during clashes in the Sheikh Salim area in the southern Abyan province. (AFP)

ADEN--Forces loyal to Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council (STC) made major advances in southern Yemen, seizing control of Sheikh Salem and Qarn Al-Kulasi areas and advancing towards the coastal town of Shuqrah, where Muslim Brotherhood-backed government forces are stationed.

According to reports, government forces were surprised by the STC’s defensive capabilities. Government forces reportedly suffered heavy losses in lives and equipment as they withdrew towards Shuqrah.

Fighters from of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) following clashes in the Sheikh Salim area in the southern Abyan province. (AFP)
Fighters from of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) following clashes in the Sheikh Salim area in the southern Abyan province. (AFP)

Sources on the ground pointed out that reinforcements were still pouring in from Aden and Lahj to support the STC.

Government reinforcements, meanwhile, came in from Shabwa and Marib,  a sign that clashes will likely continue in the coming days.

As the violence continues, Muslim Brotherhood media outlets and political leaders accused the National Resistance Forces led by Tariq Saleh of allying with the STC in clashes in Abyan, in southern Yemen.

The STC, meanwhile, accused Muslim Brotherhood-backed forces of relying on media and logistical support from Qatar, pointing to the presence of Doha-funded media employees among government forces in conflict areas.

A tweet Saleh criticising the government of attacking Aden at a time when the city “needs support and medical relief” angered politicians, activists, and media from the Islah party, the Yemeni affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Islah party responded by threatening Saleh for what they view as his support for the STC.

Reacting to the media campaign against Saleh, Sadek Dawad, a spokesperson for the National Resistance Forces, wrote on Twitter: “Before, some blamed their failure on the martyr leader [Ali Abdullah] Saleh. Today, these same people are trying to blame their failure in the south on the National Resistance Forces and Commander Tariq Saleh. Hence, we want to reiterate again that we are not operating in the South and all liberated areas. We also stress that the key to the resolution of the Yemeni conflict lies in the liberations of Sana’a [from the control of the Iran-backed Houthi militia].”

Yemen map

The STC and Yemeni government forces exchanged blame for the military confrontation in the east of Aden.

Ahmed bin Fareed, the STC’s representative in Europe, told The Arab Weekly that the government’s “hostile” statements do not show a respect for the law.

“These convulsive statements are indisputable evidence that this government has lost all sense of responsibility,” bin Fareed told The Arab Weekly. “To engage in absurd battles in the south is an act that contradicts the requirements of responsibility and the substance of the ‘Riyadh Agreement,’ that the government claims to be in favour of its implementation.”

 UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths told the Security Council May 14 that he fears “a perfect storm is brewing” in Aden. He said that diseases like  COVID-19, malaria and cholera were causing deaths to rise daily.

The situation has been worsened all the more by a health system ill-equipped to diagnose and treat people, heavy flooding that has damaged infrastructure and homes; and long-deteriorating public services.

The UN envoy said there was an urgent need to implement the Riyadh Agreement to ensure responsive governance and improved service delivery in Aden while also providing for the STC’s inclusion in a resumed UN-led political process to end the conflict.

On April 25, the STC declared a plan to establish self-rule in Aden and other areas under its control, blaming the Yemeni government of intransigence and refusing to implement the Saudi-brokered agreement on southern Yemen.

Fighters from of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) in the Sheikh Salim area in the southern Abyan province. (AFP)
Fighters from of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) in the Sheikh Salim area in the southern Abyan province. (AFP)

The Riyadh Agreement was signed in November last year between the elected Yemeni government and the STC, ending months of stand-off between the two sides in Aden.

Attacks on Aden by Muslim Brotherhood-backed forces are viewed by many observers as a waste of times and resources, aimed at confusing the intervention of the Arab-led coalition at a time when Iran-backed Houthis are in control of Al-Jouf, threatening an attack on Marib and preparing to launch a new offensive against in Al-Bayda.