Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council (STC) has announced that it is ready to attend a summit held in Saudi Arabia in order to resolve the conflict in the port city of Aden.
In a statement released yesterday, the STC said: “We thank Saudi Arabia for its earnest efforts to contain the crisis and invite the parties for talks in Jeddah…The meeting will be held as soon as necessary arrangements are completed.”
The announcement comes more than a week after the Security Belt forces, a militia under the STC, seized control of the southern port city of Aden in a “coup” against the internationally-recognised Yemeni government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, ousting it from its temporary seat of power. The group made the move following a missile attack by the Houthi militia on them earlier this month, accusing the Islah part allied to Hadi of being complicit in the attack.
The Security Belt then seized all of the military bases in and around the city, overrunning the presidential palace and government offices. Since then, the STC has insisted it will not give up control of Aden until the Islah party and Yemenis from the north of the war-torn country are removed from positions of power.
The STC, which is backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and has been a prominent player in the five-year conflict, is a southern separatist group which advocates and fights for a separate state in the south of Yemen. The group’s rise to prominence, widespread influence as shown by a huge rally of support this week, and its successful capture of Aden reveals the revival of old strains between the north and south of Yemen, which were formerly separate countries until their unification into a single state in 1990.
Since the seizure of the city, the UAE has been criticised and held responsible by Hadi for its backing of the STC, and the incident has put the Emirates at odds with its Saudi ally in the Yemeni civil war, a rift Abu Dhabi has attempted to play down. The talks in the summit to be held in Riyadh, for which a date has not yet been set, raise hope that the crisis in the anti-Houthi camp can be resolved, but Hadi has refused to attend the talks until the STC withdraws from the city and reverses its coup.