August 26, 2020 6:17:14 pm
Fighting resumed in southern Yemen between Emirati-backed separatists and the internationally recognized government, officials said Wednesday. The renewed violence comes after the separatists suspended participation in talks to implement a Saudi-brokered peace deal.
The secessionist Southern Transitional Council, an umbrella group of militias backed by the UAE, said late Tuesday it informed Saudi Arabia of the suspension, accusing the government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi of mobilizing forces in the southern province of Abyan.
There was no immediate comment from Hadi’s government, and a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition embroiled in a years-long conflict in Yemen was not available for comment. The separatists’ announcement could thwart Saudi efforts to close a year-long rift amid a broader war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Government forces allegedly have killed more than 75 separatist fighters in the flashpoint province of Abyan since June 22, when the two sides agreed to a cease-fire after months of infighting, the STC said. The secessionist group also accused the government of not paying salaries and pensions in the southern provinces, particularly for military and security personnel.
Hours after the announcement, fighting resumed overnight between the separatists and government forces in Abyan, where Saudi-led coalition deployed troops in June to observe the cease-fire, officials from both sides said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to reporters.
The secessionist council, comprised of heavily armed and well-financed militias propped up by the UAE since 2015, hopes to restore an independent southern Yemen, which existed from 1967 until unification in 1990. The group declared self-rule over the key port city Aden and other southern provinces in April, before it abandoned its aspirations for self-rule late in July to implement the stalled peace agreement with Hadi’s government.
The power-sharing deal, signed in the Saudi capital of Riyadh last fall, sets the stage to end a long-running rivalry between the two sides. The agreement was never implemented.
Saudi Arabia last month proposed a plan to accelerate the deal’s implementation, which calls for the creation of a new government within 30 days and the appointment of a new governor and security director for Aden.
Tuesday’s development likely would abort these efforts and reopen a new front within the broader Yemeni conflict. Yemen’s descent into turmoil started in 2014 when Iranian-backed Houthi rebels overran the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country’s north, driving Hadi’s government into exile.
The Saudi-led coalition, which is backed by the US, intervened the following year to try and restore Hadi’s rule.
The stalemated war has killed over 112,000 people and ignited what the United Nations has labeled the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
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