Local sources have said Saudi and Sudanese troops have arrived in Yemen’s southern province of Aden in spite of a Reuters report indicating that an agreement between Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and southern separatists was due to be signed today.
The Yemeni government hopes to retake the city as its interim capital, having lost Sanaa to the Houthis, but was ousted from Aden in August. UAE-backed separatists who – until recently – were in control of the city, hope to declare it the capital of a future state of South Yemen.
So far no date has been confirmed for the signing of the agreement, according to state news agency SABA. Earlier this week, following months of talks in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah, UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) leader Aidrous Al-Zubaidi headed to Riyadh for further negotiations with the Yemeni government headed by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
The Saudi and Sudanese reinforcements have been stationed west of Aden between the city’s airport and a military camp belonging to the Saudi-led coalition, with more troops expected to move into Al Anad Air Base north of Aden after the withdrawal of UAE forces last week.
On Monday, the UAE handed key positions in the city to Saudi forces in an attempt to de-escalate political tensions.
According to the Houthi-aligned Yemen Press Agency, leaked confidential details of the so-called Jeddah Agreement between the Hadi government and the STC include the assignment of security tasks in the southern provinces by the Security Belt militia – the armed wing of the STC.
It has also been reported that the Hadi government and the Saudi-supported Islah party have been under pressure from Riyadh to agree to the terms of the pact in exchange for reducing the presence of UAE forces in the southern provinces. Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are part of anti-Houthi coalition.