Yemeni and STC forces redeploy in Abyan, Aden

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


Fighters loyal to Yemen's separatist Southern Transitional Council travel in a convoy in Abyan province on December 13th, as part of a withdrawal in accordance with a power-sharing agreement brokered in Riyadh. [AFP]

Yemen's government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) on Friday (December 11th) began a reciprocal withdrawal of forces in Abyan province under the terms of the power-sharing agreement signed in Riyadh.

The move demonstrates that Yemen's government and the separatist STC have been committed and serious in implementing the military and security aspect of the Riyadh Agreement, the Arab coalition said.

These measures, which include the withdrawal of STC forces from Aden, are proceeding according to plan, and the process continues in co-operation with Arab coalition forces, the coalition said.

The government on Friday began redeploying forces of the 189th Infantry Brigade from the area of Sheikh Salem in Abyan to the area of Lawdar, near parts of al-Bayda province controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah).

Meanwhile, the STC began withdrawing the Saiqa (Thunderbolt) forces of the 14th Brigade to the Abyan city of Zinjibar. These forces are to be redeployed to the frontlines with the Houthis in al-Dhale province.

The two sides on December 10th agreed to form a new government of 24 ministers, including from the STC, within a week, by which time the military and security aspect of the agreement is expected to be implemented.

Air of optimism prevails

President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi is keen to implement the security aspect of the agreement, said Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez.

This is expected "to create a suitable atmosphere that will help the government of technocrats perform its required role", he told Al-Mashareq, noting that the government will operate from Aden, Yemen's temporary capital.

The Saudi military team is working on the ground to implement the military aspect of the agreement, which entails the withdrawal of forces and their subsequent redeployment to confront the Houthis, Abdul Hafeez said.

An air of optimism prevails amid the latest developments, said Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Mousai, the Ministry of Interior's undersecretary for the security and police sector, and Riyadh Agreement military committee member.

This was especially the case after the implementation of the first withdrawal of forces from both sides from Abyan, he told Al-Mashareq.

The military and security aspect of the agreement calls for the withdrawal, redeployment and integration of the security services in the city of Aden, and the entry of the 4th Presidential Protection Brigade.

This force is being prepared for its mission in Shabwa province, al-Mousai said.

The Interior Ministry will be responsible for managing security in Aden as a guarantee for the new government's success, he said.

Putting an end to tensions

"The practical implementation of the military and security aspect came after the parties became convinced it was the only solution to end the military tension between the two sides," said Ali al-Sarari, advisor to Yemen's prime minister.

Al-Sarari noted Saudi Arabia has made a great effort to resolve any outstanding issues.

The implementation of the military aspect and the exit of STC forces from Aden are aimed at "consolidating security and stability there", he said.

This will "enable the government to perform its duties, alleviate the population's economic hardships, and improve the value of the currency, which has been deteriorating constantly", he said.

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