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UAE-backed separatists support ex-president’s party in north Yemen

January 31, 2018 at 1:24 pm

The leader of Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council (STC) has publically advocated support for the General People’s Congress (GPC) party, Aden Times has reported. “We stand by Tariq Mohammed Saleh and his supporters,” confirmed General Aidarous Al-Zubaidi, President of the UAE-backed STC. Al-Zubaidi added that he will support Saleh, the nephew of the late former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in defeating the Houthi group in northern Yemen.

The GPC is currently being led by Sadeq Amin Abu Ras, who will head up the party until the next general assembly. Early this month, Ras condemned the “aggression” by the Saudi-led coalition, but did not comment on the Houthis.

The STC’s support comes off the back of clashes that erupted in Aden, south Yemen, early on Sunday after internationally-recognised President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi’s forces attempted to stop UAE-backed separatist forces from entering the city. After two days of fighting, the STC declared victory over the Hadi government’s cabinet led by Prime Minister Ahmad Bin Dhager.

Amid rumours that Dhager’s cabinet is looking to get its ministers out of the city, government spokesperson Rajeh Badi confirmed that the notion of leaving is baseless.

Read: UAE is leading a ‘coup’ in south Yemen, says Hadi

“The announcement of Zubaidi’s support for Saleh is seen as him joining the Arabs in the battle against Iran’s project in the region,” said Murad Abdu, a youth activist in southern Yemen. “The Southern people will stand with the Arabs against Iranian-backed Houthis, who pose a danger not only to Yemen but to the whole region.”

According to Abdu, Iran’s plan for the region must be stopped: “So the southern provinces will stand firmly with our brothers of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. We as Southerners share the same fate.” A country no longer facing the threat of the Houthis, he insisted, will be shaped and restored to its former state on the same path as the UAE and GCC.

Meanwhile, forces loyal to President Hadi and backed by Saudi-led coalition air strikes have already entered northern Yemen’s Razih district across the border from Jizan. While the STC is at odds with Hadi in the south of Yemen, the legitimate government has made significant territorial gains in Saada governorate, a Houthi-stronghold.

Read: UAE commits torture in Yemen

UAE-backed southern separatist forces joined in a military alliance with President Hadi on the west coast of Yemen last month. The objective was to retake the strategic port city of Hudaydah and the capital Sana’a from Houthi control. However, the STC has not said whether or not it will continue the alliance.

The Saudi-led coalition has remained neutral in the conflict dynamic in Aden. A former Saudi general and the head of the Middle East Centre for Legal and Strategic Studies, Dr Anwar Eshki, proposed a federal system with one government in the north and another in the south. “Aidarous Al-Zubaidi is accepted in the south, and Ahmed Ali Saleh is co-founder of the Republican Guard in Sana’a and is accepted in the north and not rejected by the south,” he pointed out.

The STC seeks to secede from northern Yemen, and declared independence from the Hadi government in May 2017 with the military, financial and political support of the UAE.

Read: Aden clashes suggest separatist revivalz