The UAE-supported separatists of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) in Yemen have established a new military force in the southern port city and interim capital, Aden. News of the move was provided by the commander of the Security Belt Forces, the elite military wing of the STC, Brigadier General Mohsen Al-Wali.
According to reports, the so-called Aden Ring Belt Forces will be led by Lieutenant Colonel Naji Al-Yehri, with Major Mohamed Yaslim Al-Sobaihi as Chief of Staff.
The formation of the group threatens to cause further tensions between the UN-recognised Yemeni government and the STC following the 2019 signing of the Riyadh Agreement, which led to a new unity government late last year.
The new armed group may also undermine the military arrangements under the accord, which was intended to facilitate the withdrawal of STC forces from the contested southern Abyan province and their redeployment to focus on the Houthi front lines in the north.
On Sunday, the STC rejected recent appointments made by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, including the appointment of a new attorney general and Shura Council head.
Reminder of the fragility of #Yemen's new power-sharing arrangement between north & south:
Latest #STC statement alleges that key appointments made by President Hadi on 15JAN without consultation flout the #RiyadhAgreement. If not addressed, it warns "steps will be taken" pic.twitter.com/3Mvc5uqKPs
— Elisabeth Kendall (@Dr_E_Kendall) January 19, 2021
The STC described the presidential decrees as "unilateral decisions" which "constituted a blatant departure from what has been agreed upon according to the Riyadh deal, and are undermining the consensus process and partnership established between the two parties." It threatened to take "escalating steps in the event that the presidential decisions taken without prior agreement are not addressed."