Politics

Arab coalition rejects south Yemen self-rule declaration

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden and AFP

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A convoy of Saudi military vehicles patrols in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on April 26th after Yemen's separatist Southern Transitional Council declared self-rule in the south of the country. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

The Arab coalition on Monday (April 27th) rejected a declaration of self-rule by separatists in Yemen's south and demanded "an end to any escalatory actions".

The breakaway declaration made Sunday significantly complicates Yemen's wider conflict, between Yemen's government, backed by the Arab coalition, and the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah), who control much of the north.

Separatists in the south, which used to be an independent country, have repeatedly agitated to break away again -- a campaign that was temporarily put to rest with a power-sharing deal signed in Riyadh last November.

But on Sunday the Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared self-rule in southern Yemen, accusing the government of failing to perform its duties and of "conspiring" against the southern cause.

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Fighters with Yemen's Southern Transitional Council search a car at a checkpoint in flood-hit Aden on April 26th. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

Aden residents reported heavy deployments of STC forces, and a separatist source said they had set up checkpoints "at all government facilities, including the central bank and port of Aden".

The Yemeni government condemned the move and warned it could lead to a "catastrophic and dangerous" outcome.

The Arab coalition reiterated the need "to promptly implement the Riyadh Agreement", according to the Saudi Press Agency.

"The coalition demands an end to any escalatory actions and calls for return to the agreement by the participating parties," the coalition said.

Key coalition partner the UAE, which has supported the STC, also stressed the importance of abiding by the Riyadh pact.

"Frustration over delay in implementing the agreement is not a reason to unilaterally change the situation," UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said in a social media post.

"We have full confidence in Saudi Arabia's keenness to implement the agreement."

Saudi state minister of foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom and the UAE "strongly believe that the internationally-backed Riyadh agreement has guaranteed an opportunity for the brotherly Yemeni people to live in peace".

"We reject any hostilities that will jeopardise the safety and stability of Yemen."

Aftermath of flash floods

Yemen's government declared Aden a "disaster area" on April 21st, following flash floods in which 14 people died, including five children, and at least 45 people were injured. The floods also destroyed homes, cars and property.

The government allocated one billion riyals ($4 million) in emergency relief to assist Aden in the opening of roads, removal of debris and compensation of affected residents, Deputy Prime Minister Salem al-Khanbashi said last week.

The Supreme National Emergency Committee dispatched field teams to remove debris and pump water to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases and malaria-carrying mosquitoes, said al-Khanbashi, the committee's chairman.

"The ministry is concerned about the spread of epidemics such as the dengue fever and other fevers due to standing rainwater," Deputy Minister of Health Abdul Raqeeb al-Haidari told Al-Mashareq at the time.

"The magnitude of the disaster that befell Aden far exceeds available resources," emergency committee co-ordinator Jamal Belfaqih told Al-Mashareq.

"The situation in Aden requires that all official agencies join forces with civil society organisations and receive help from international organisations and the Arab coalition to mitigate the damage to the population," Belfaqih said.

The emergency committee had last week arranged to provide urgent financial support and shelter to families whose houses were damaged.

The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) also pledged to provide food baskets to 10,000 families, and the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Programme for Yemen has been removing debris from some streets.

Border closures extended

Meanwhile, the Yemeni government last week extended the closure of land, sea and air border crossings until further notice as part of precautionary measures taken to fight the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Yemen reported its first coronavirus case on April 10th in Hadramaut province.

In an April 20th meeting to address the situation, the Supreme National Emergency Committee agreed to strengthen preventive measures at border crossings and facilitate the entry of commercial and relief shipments.

"Yemen cannot close its land, sea and air crossings completely as the country is a net food importer," economist Abdul Aziz Thabet told Al-Mashareq.

Prime Minister Moeen Abdulmalik said the Yemeni government will not hesitate to take all necessary measures to protect Yemeni citizens from coronavirus.

"Some private sector companies have announced they will help outfit hospitals with equipment," Deputy Minister of Health Abdul Raqeeb al-Haidari told Al-Mashareq.

These efforts will support the Ministry of Health, which has been working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), KSRelief and the World Bank, he said.

In Hadramaut province, a total lockdown was imposed on al-Shahr and al-Ghayl districts, with a partial lockdown on the rest of the province.

Al-Haidari said neighbouring Shabwa, al-Mahrah and Wadi Hadramaut have closed their crossings with the Hadramaut Coast, as "a precautionary measure to encircle the epidemic in the narrowest geographical area".

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5 Comment(s)

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The best solution is separation. In this case, everyone can go their own way.

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First, let's liberate our own land and then talk about the liberation of Palestine.

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We and all free Yemenis respond to you and say that the legitimate government, Houthis, the Movement and some with hidden agenda are working with Arab and foreign agents who hate Yemen. They are warlords who are exploiting the honest people of Yemen; they’re sacrificing them as scapegoats for money and their own personal and partisan interests. I invite all honest people of Yemen to rise up against them all. A free man of Yemen.

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Oftentimes, I see news that the militias have looted the Central Bank. What are the President and ministers doing? They should intervene and cut their hands and legs; otherwise I’ll complain against them to God on Judgement Day that they didn’t perform their duties.

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Thanks for the article. We hope to see more of it for the public benefit.

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