Yemen’s STC calls for equal government representation within Riyadh Agreement
RIYADH –Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council President Aidarus al-Zubaidi spoke Monday of the need to form a new government with equal representation in accordance with the Riyadh Agreement.
He noted that once formed, this government should assume its tasks immediately to provide the required public services to citizens, and push ahead with the implementation of the rest of the terms of the agreement, brokered by Riyadh and signed in November.
Zubaidi, during a meeting with British Ambassador to Yemen Michael Aron at his residence in Riyadh, said that that peace and stability will only be achieved in the war-battered country if the Riyadh Agreement is fully implemented and the implications of the current crisis with the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi are addressed.
He also indicated the STC’s support for the peace process, led by the United Nations Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, noting the council’s readiness to contribute to this process.
“It is impossible to have any real solutions without a real and complete representation of the south at the negotiating table,” Zubaidi said, praising Saudi efforts and stressing the STC’s rejection of any regional interference that is hostile to the Arab intervention.
The conflict between the STC and the government of Hadi constitutes a second front in Yemen, already split by a war between government loyalists and Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
The STC, which declared self-rule on April 26, has made a series of military gains, the latest this month when it seized the strategic island of Socotra.
Earlier on Saturday, Hadi called on the STC to abide by the Riyadh power-sharing agreement, in his first public comments since the council declared autonomy in April.
“Resorting to arms and force for personal gains… will not be accepted,” Hadi said during a meeting with high-level government officials.
However, Hadi’s statements failed to mention the military operations still conducted by the government’s Qatari-backed forces and the suspected involvement of Muslim Brotherhood cells in the conflict with the STC.
Hadi has lived in Riyadh since 2015, after the capital Sana’a fell to the Houthis the year before.
Located off the southern coast of Aden, the interim seat of the Yemeni government, Socotra, now under the control of the STC, is near strategic shipping lanes and is famed for its biodiversity.
The STC and the Yemeni government are technically allies in the fight against Iran-backed Houthis, but the rift between them represents a damaging “war within a war” in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country.
Earlier this week, a Saudi-led military coalition backing the government against the Houthis said it had deployed observers to monitor a ceasefire between pro-government troops and STC forces announced two days earlier.
Saudi forces arrived June 24 in Shaqra and Sheikh Salem, two flashpoints in southern Yemen’s Abyan province, to monitor that truce, military sources said.
A collapse of the ceasefire in the south would again complicate efforts by the government to repel the Houthis.
The STC and the government are due to hold further talks in Saudi Arabia to discuss the truce, coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki said this week.