Yemen separatists break peace deal to claim control of south

On Sunday, the separatists in Yemen broke a peace agreement with the internationally recognized government of the country and claimed exclusive control of the regional capital of Aden, threatening to resume fighting between the two ostentatious allies.

In a statement, the Southern Separatist Transition Council, which is supported by the United Arab Emirates, declared a state of emergency and said it would “self-govern” the main port city in the south and other southern provinces. The separatists have accused the Saudi-backed government of Yemen of corruption and mismanagement.

The government rejected the separatists’ decision. Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Hadrami called on Saudi Arabia to have a “clear position” and to take “decisive action against the continued rebellion of the so-called Transition Council”.

A complicated civil war

Another facet of the country’s complicated civil war is the division between the two alleged allies. On the one hand, the separatists and on the other, the forces loyal to former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The two fought together in the war led by the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen.

In 2014, the Houthis invaded large parts of northern Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa, repelling the internationally recognized government and starting a war that killed tens of thousands of people. Hadi fled first to Aden, then to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in the conflict in 2015 and has since waged a war against the Houthis with the aim of returning Hadi’s government to power. Fighting in the poorest country in the Arab world has also left millions of people suffering from food and medical shortages and plunged the country to the brink of starvation.

In August, fierce fighting broke out between Hadi’s forces and the southern separatists when the latter took Aden, the temporary seat of Hadi’s government, and the main southern provinces. The fighting stopped when the two groups reached an agreement in November.

However, the agreement has not yet been implemented, as the two sides have exchanged charges over stopping its implementation.

Saturday’s move came amid protests in Aden against Hadi’s government and the separatists following torrential rains and devastating floods earlier this week. The rains plunged parts of the country under water, causing considerable damage to homes and leaving dozens of people missing, homeless or dead. She forced Hadi’s government to declare a state of emergency in Aden, who was hit hard.

The separatists’ announcement on Sunday raised concerns that Yemen may be in chaos amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Yemen has so far only one confirmed case in the southern province of Hadramawt, but experts and health workers have warned that the disease could take its toll due to the dilapidated health system and damaged infrastructure.