Cautious truce in Yemen's Abyan as observers deploy

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

Fighters loyal to Yemen's separatist Southern Transitional Council are pictured in the southern Abyan province on June 24th. [AFP]

Fighters loyal to Yemen's separatist Southern Transitional Council are pictured in the southern Abyan province on June 24th. [AFP]

Clashes came to a halt between Yemeni forces and the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) in the southern province of Abyan after observers were deployed along confrontation lines between the two sides.

In a statement carried by state television, presidential advisor Mohammed al-Ameri announced that confrontations had stopped "as a direct result" of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi's directives to army forces to cease fire.

The truce is designed "to enable observers to carry out their tasks and start implementing the Riyadh Agreement, which was signed between the two sides on November 5th, 2019", he said.

He noted that the deployment of observers comes in response to the Arab coalition's June 22nd call for a full ceasefire.

In a Saturday (June 27th) speech delivered in the presence of senior state officials, Hadi stressed that the Riyadh Agreement must be fully implemented.

This course of action represents "the safest way out for ending all the causes, manifestations and repercussions of the armed rebellion in the provisional capital of Aden and some liberated areas", he said.

"This also will give priority to the country's high interests and unify efforts against the coup of the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah)," he said.

Hadi also urged the STC to back down on its self-administration declaration.

"Our goals are clear: we need a federal, secure and stable Yemen where its people live in justice, good governance and equality," Hadi said.

"Towards that end, we have chosen honourable, patriotic struggle to end the coup of the Iran-backed Houthis, restore our state and resume our conciliatory political process," he said.

"We are aspiring for a just and comprehensive peace based on the three terms of reference: the Gulf Initiative, output of Yemen's National Dialogue, and Security Council Resolution 2216 and relevant resolutions," he added.

Implement agreement 'without delay'

Meeting in Riyadh on Sunday, the Yemeni government again stressed the need to resume the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement without any delay or division, and to create a suitable atmosphere for unifying national ranks.

This will enable the two sides to proceed with their collective battle against the agenda of Iran and its Houthi proxies, government representatives said.

Abyan Youth Association head Hamdi Mansour told Al-Mashareq that despite a few breaches of the peace, a cautious calm prevailed in the province.

Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez told Al-Mashareq that Hadi and his government stressed their commitment to the implementation of Riyadh Agreement to spare Yemeni blood and respond to the Arab coalition's efforts.

"The legitimate government stresses the need to implement the military aspect of the agreement before its political aspect, as laid out in the agreement itself, while the STC seeks to implement the political aspect," he noted.

He accused the STC of seeking to implement the political side of the agreement -- including the formation of a new government and appointment of a governor and security chief of Aden -- before withdrawing its forces from Aden.

The Arab coalition must accelerate the implementation of the agreement, political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq, noting that senior state officials and STC leaders are assembled now in Riyadh.

He expressed concern that "the ceasefire will not hold long", however, "because of the continued media campaigns by the two sides".

"Some leaders want to undermine the Saudi and Arab coalition efforts," he said, pointing out that this would "definitely serve the Iran-backed Houthi project".

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