Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Takeover of Aden by separatists weakens the front against the Houthis
A Southern Yemeni organisation that seeks the secession (or autonomy) of South Yemen, the Southern Transitional Council (STC) on after four days of fighting on Saturday took effective control of various parts of Aden. With vehicles donated by the United Arab Emirates and without meeting too much resistance as it seems, they took over military camps, the home of the interior minister and the almost-empty presidential palace where guards agreed to leave without a fight. Forty people were killed in the fighting and 260 were wounded.
STC leader Aidarous al-Zubaidi on Sunday said in a televised appearance the council was committed to a ceasefire called by Saudi Arabia, and said the separatists were willing to attend a meeting called by Riyadh a day earlier. He added they were also willing to work with the Saudi-UAE-led military coalition battling Yemen's Houthi rebels. On the surface the front against the Houthis seems to remains intact in this way, but the real significance of the take over lies in the fact that a serious split between the two main components of the anti-Houthi-front came into the open in this way: the Saudis who back the officially recognized Yemeni governement of Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi at the one hand and the United Arab Emirates who support the STC at the other.
The two countries have been fighting the Houthis the last five years with the backing by the US and Great Britain among others in a war that has cost ttrens of thousands of lives and had brought hunger and destruction. It hasn t brought them nearer a victory however. The Sauedis mainly bombed fro the air, the UAE had his troups in the South, but recentl;u announced that it is going to withdraw them. That gae the STC the opportunity to take over Aden.
Mansour Hadi, who became the official presdident in 2012 after the old president Ali Abdallah Saleh abdicated, changed his residency to Aden after the Houthis took over Sanaa in 2014. He was originally Saleg Adjudant and was elected as an interim president in a contest where there were no other candidates. In 2019 he is still around, although he was most of the time in Saudi Arabia. Now he has lost his second capital as well.
The loss of Aden has a special significance as far as the fight with the Houthis is concerned. The two parts of Yemen have long been separated. In 1839 the British made Aden its Crown colony and it remained British till 1967. After that year the South became communist, wary as it was of colonialist adventures. In 1990 the two parts of Yemen were at last re-united again, but after rigged elections in 1994 and a civil war a year later, the South was again brought under Northern patronage. Separatist tendencies remained however, enforced by justified claims that the North did littl;e to dvelop the South. Also it was the scene of islamist upheavals and activities of a branch of al-Qaida.
The fact that Aden is in the ahbdsa of the separatists again, as in 1995, is a very serious blow to the credibility of the already extremely weak government of Mansour Hadi and means that the front against the Houthis although maybe in name still unified may not be so united anymore. It may not yet be a forgone conclusion that this is the end of one unified Yemen, but the demnads that rthe STC made public in a letter to the United Nations is clear enough:
1. “Credible southern representation” in the political process towards ending the overall conflict.
2. A sustainable political solution for southern Yemen, including a process for self- determination.
3. More international aid for the south.