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Yemen Crisis: Separatist Group Declares Autonomous Rule in Southern Region

The declaration breaks the peace deal signed by the STC and the internationally recognised Hadi’s government

The UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), an Aden-based separatist group, declared a state of emergency and self-rule in the port city of Aden and other southern provinces in Yemen on April 26. The Council had previously accused the Saudi-backed Yemen government of mismanagement and corruption, which they denied. The Yemeni government responded to the declaration by warning the STC of “dangerous and catastrophic consequences.” 

The UAE-backed STC and Saudi-backed Hadi’s government have been allies in fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels who removed Hadi’s government from capital Sanaa in 2014. The coalition convened in March 2015, to restore the power of the forces loyal to exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in Yemen. But the separatist group turned against the government when they seized the provisional capital, Aden, in August 2019. To stop the civil war, the Riyadh accords were signed in November 2019. Under the agreement, the STC and representation of other southern provinces were supposed to join the national cabinet and work under the internationally recognised government. 

Yemen’s foreign minister, Muhammad Al-Hadhrami said that STC’s move is the declaration of withdrawal from the Riyadh agreement. “The announcement by the so-called transitional council of its intention to establish a southern administration is a resumption of its armed insurgency and an announcement of its rejection and complete withdrawal from the Riyadh agreement,” Al Hadhrami stated. The announcement of the autonomous rule has strained the Riyadh accords and has made Yemen’s political map even more complicated. STC’s move has also raised several concerns that Yemen could further disintegrate into chaos amid the global coronavirus pandemic.