Hadi government 'betrayed by Saudi Arabia' as UAE-backed separatists capture Socotra island

Hadi government 'betrayed by Saudi Arabia' as UAE-backed separatists capture Socotra island
The STC have taken over the strategic town of Hadibo in the Socotra island, angering the Hadi government.
3 min read
20 June, 2020
The STC have taken over Hadibo in Socotra [Getty]
UAE-backed southern Yemeni separatists have gained control of the strategic Socotra island and have started implementing self-rule, according to local reports.

The Southern Transitional Council (STC), which seeks self-rule and an independent South Yemen, released a statement saying Hadibo, the island’s largest town, has been captured.

“The southern forces have stormed the special task forces camp, the last stronghold of the camps of Muslim brotherhood in Hadibo,” Salem Thabet, a senior member of the STC said, referring to goverment camps.

Local sources said the announcement followed indiscriminate attacks on Hadibo prior to taking control of the town.

Forces loyal to the Saudi-backed government, led by Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, withdrew from the battle in what they say was an attempt to deescalate the situation. 

The withdrawal prompted senior members of the Hadi government to express anger for an alleged"betrayal" by Saudi Arabia.

On Friday, the advisor to the Yemeni Information Minister, Mukhtar Al-Rahbi accused the Saudi forces stationed in Socotra of failing government forces in the face of the "Southern Transitional attack", blaming them for the bloodshed and occupation of state institutions.

In an interview with The New Arab's sister Arabic language TV-station, Al-Araby TV, Al-Rahbi stressed Saudi Arabia was capable of bringing to a halt the STC takeover of Socotra, noting the island had not previously witnessed coups, killings or assassinations until the UAE entered it. 

The fighting occurred despite the STC and the government signing a truce on Wednesday to end fighting on the island of Socotra.

Yemen's Islah party is the biggest in the Yemeni government and is deemed to be the country's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered to be a terrorist organisation by the UAE. 

Analysts say the UAE and allies often use the Muslim Brotherhood label as a scaremongering tactic against most political and military opposition.

The developments in Socotra come days after Saudi Arabia announced an initiative aimed at resolving an enduring deadlock between two factions of the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

Three sources, including one from the government and another from the STC, said earlier this week that Riyadh had proposed re-implementing a power-sharing agreement agreed in November but which stalled due to infighting.

The proposal's other demands included a ceasefire in Abyan province, and for the STC to repeal emergency rule.

Hadi would have subsequently appointed a governor and head of security for Aden, and selected a prime minister who would be tasked with forming a cabinet that would include the STC.

The proposal stipulated that the STC would then withdraw its fighters from Aden and transfer them to Abyan, allowing the new government to be formed.

In contrast, the STC wants the cabinet established before it redeploys its forces, sources said.

Mistrust between the two sides runs deep and risks derailing Saudi Arabia's newly-announced efforts. Meanwhile, Riyadh seems to be urgently seeking to withdraw from the conflict before it hosts a G20 summit in November.

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