This is the 5th part of a short explainer article series on the current crisis in Yemen. To read the earlier parts of the series click on the link.
To read the 1st part of the series click on the link.
To read the 2nd part of the series click on the link.
To read the 3rd part of the series click on the link.
To read the 4th part of the series click on the link.
Since the unification of Yemen in 1990 the political, economic and military leadership was dominated by the Northerners which resulted in continuous conflicts. It was the fight against Al Qaeda linked elements and the Houthis that the political and military forces continued to work together.
A formidable coalition of UAE and Saudi Arabia, led by Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ) and Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), the Crown Princes of respective countries, backed the deposed President of Yemen Mansour Al Hadi in his fight against Houthis. The Houthi forces were supported primarily by Iran which is the geopolitical rival of Saudi Arabia.
The coalition forces used heavy aerial bombardment and naval blockades, but contrary to their expectation, Houthis proved to be formidable opponents and were able to withstand the assaults. President Hadi was confined to Aden and his forces, in spite of massive backing, couldn't dislodge the Houthis from Sana’a. Iranian help in the form of military hardware and trainers enabled the Houthis to launch some spectacular attacks deep inside the Saudi Arabian territory as well.
The failure of President Hadi led forces against Houthis along with the increasing activities of Al Qaeda in Arabiam Peninsula (AQAP) encouraged the revival of a long suppressed secessionist movement in Southern Yemen, Al-Hirak al-Janoubi commonly called Hirak.
Al-Hirak al-Janoubi :
During the rule of President Abdullah Saleh’s rule in 2007, another movement for promoting the secession of Southern Yemen was launched. It was known as Al Hirak and its objective was to revert to the pre-unification status of Yemen. This movement could not garner much support but was lying dormant for a long time.
In 2017 a faction of Al-Hirak movement formed Al-Hirak al-Janoubi or The Southern Transitional Council (STC). Its current members consist of governorates in the southern part of Yemen. It is headed by a former governor of Aden, Aidarus al-Zoubaidi.
Zoubaidi was dismissed as governor of Aden by Hadi in 2017 for his close ties to the UAE. As a governor Zoubaidi was quite popular in Aden, and his dismissal was met with protests against President Hadi. With support from the UAE he went on to form the STC, also known as the Separatists.
In 2018, the Separatists occupied the government at Aden in a coup d’état against the Hadi government, leading to 38 deaths. The Hadi government called this a UAE backed-coup. Since the UAE and Saudi Arabia are part of the same Arab coalition, they agreed to sit down for talks regarding the Yemen issue.
Despite this, the Separatists took over Aden in 2019, leading to much confusion over who controls the basic services and administrative duties (such as payment of civil servants) in the city.
The BBC reported that “In April 2020 the STC declared self-rule in Aden, breaking a peace deal signed with the internationally recognised government, saying it would govern the port city and southern provinces.”
So in effect Yemen is now governed by three separate entities, Houthis in North Yemen, STC and Hadi faction in Southern part of Yemen. Apart from this in parts of tribal hinterland, Al Qaeda is running its writ. There is a real danger that Yemen is now on the path to disintegration.
To read the 6th part of the series click on the link.
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