Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

UAE welcomes deal between Yemen government and southern leaders

Allies in the fight against Houthi rebels have been resolving their differences in Saudi-mediated talks

The southern port city of Aden where Yemen's government is based after rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, in 2014. Reuters
The southern port city of Aden where Yemen's government is based after rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, in 2014. Reuters

The UAE has welcomed an agreement to resolve differences between Yemen's government and Southern Transitional Council (STC) as a new stage for the conflict-racked country.

The agreement, which is expected to be signed within a few days, includes equal representation for southern politicians in President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi’s government and the assimilation of STC-affiliated forces into the police and military, according to officials from both sides.

The government and STC are allies in the fight against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who seized the capital, Sanaa, in 2014 and still hold large parts of northern Yemen. However, clashes broke out between their forces in August before they began Saudi-mediated peace negotiations in Riyadh and Jeddah.

“It is important to focus on confronting the Houthi coup and its aggression.Through this agreement, Yemen is coming to a new stage,” Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said in a tweet on Saturday.

The UAE has played a key role in the Saudi-led Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen on the government’s behalf in 2015, supporting and training local forces in liberated southern areas and launching projects to restore essential services.

An STC official said the deal with the government would allow both sides to resume the fight against the Houthis.

“The STC had positively and co-operatively engaged in the talks which were sponsored by our brothers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This reflects the real desire the STC have to achieve peace, because we were aware of the sensitivity of the situation, and because we believe that our enemy is one – the Houthi rebels,” Adel Al Shabahi, an official in the STC’s foreign affairs department, told The National.

He said both sides had approved the final draft of the agreement and a formal signing ceremony would be held within a few days.

“Both President Hadi and the STC head Maj Gen Aidarous Al Zoubaidi will do the joint signature and the ceremony will be attended by ambassadors of the states supporting the peace process in Yemen, as well as the UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths and other officials from the Coalition states,” he said.

He said the implementation of the agreement would be monitored by a committee comprising representatives from the Saudi-led coalition, the Yemeni government and the STC.

“The post-agreement stage is very crucial. We all should show good intentions towards each other, and we should all work together seriously to achieve victory in the battle with the Houthis,” Mr Al Shabahi said.

An STC source said southern representatives would have 50 per cent representation in Mr Hadi’s government, confirming details revealed by Saudi officials, but the group itself would not be part of it. The agreement also establishes the STC as an official partner of the Arab Coalition.

Mr Al Shabahi said STC-allied forces would be placed under the government’s defence and interior ministries. All army divisions would be withdrawn from the main cities within two weeks while other security forces under the government would remain. At the same time, pro-government forces sent south from Marib province in August would withdraw back north.

STC spokesman Nazar Haiytham told The National the agreement would give southern Yemen official representation at regional and international discussions and formalise its partnership with the Arab Coalition at political, military, economic, security and developmental levels.

“We will continue our role in combating the Houthi rebels and encountering the terror organisations under the Arab Coalition’s strategy,” he said.

Updated: October 26, 2019 04:26 PM

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