Saudi-UAE military delegation lands in Aden to contain 'separatist coup'

Saudi-UAE military delegation lands in Aden to contain 'separatist coup'
A joint Saudi-Emirati military delegation arrived in Aden on Thursday to discuss the pullout of UAE-backed separatists who are threatening to unravel the Arab coalition.
3 min read
15 August, 2019
The separatists took over Aden after deadly clashes last week [Getty]
A joint Saudi-Emirati military delegation arrived in Aden on Thursday to discuss the pullout of UAE-backed separatists from positions they captured in Yemen's interim capital, government and separatists sources told AFP.

The delegation arrived in the city "to discuss the issue of the withdrawal of southern Security Belt forces from government camps and positions they seized last week," a source in the government of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi told AFP.

A source from the Southern Transitional Council (STC) confirmed their arrival, saying "we will hold talks with them," without providing further details.

Forces loyal to the UAE-supported STC, which seeks an independent South Yemen, seized the presidential palace in Aden on Saturday after clashes with forces loyal to Hadi left 40 people dead.

The fighting sparked tensions within the Arab coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which backs the government against northern-based Houthi rebels.

The clashes saw forces that back the STC take five barracks, the presidential palace and the prime minister's office.

The Saudi-led coalition condemned the takeover and urged the STC-aligned Security Belt militia to pull out from positions it captured, calling for peace talks to resolve the standoff.

Yemen's government on Wednesday ruled out talks with the separatists until they withdraw from positions they seized in Aden. 

The Yemeni embassy in Washington, quoting the foreign ministry, on Wednesday welcomed the Saudi initiative to address the "coup" in Aden.

But, it said in a tweet, separatists "must first commit to total withdrawal from areas forcibly seized by STC in past few days before start of any talks."

'Victory parade'

The delegation arrived as thousands of Yemenis from across the country’s southern region descended upon the temporary capital on Wednesday, in a parade celebrating the separatists’ takeover of Aden.

The parade took place in Aden’s Khormaksar district, a few metres away from the capital’s heavily-guarded safe zone where international rights organisations and UN agencies are located.

Videos and images circulating online showed hundreds of cars entering Aden, the separatists' self-declared capital, where clashes between Saudi-backed government forces and UAE-backed separatists erupted in the last week.

“The...march was no doubt huge, but it was made up of Bedouins and people from other cities across the south, including Dhale’ - not Adenis,” a witness told The New Arab.

Adenis have been largely isolated from this whole campaign despite it unravelling on their ground. The influx of STC supporters from other areas of the region in no way reflects the general opinion on the street. There are some that support and others that don’t - most people just want peace and we don’t care who provides that for us," the witness said.

The 'victory' parade took place in the evening on Wednesday, just days after the separatists announced they had captured all state institutions in Aden after heavy clashes.

The clashes erupted after a prominent southern separatist leader was killed in a Houthi attack on a military graduate parade in Aden earlier this month.

The death of one of Abu Dhabi's most senior right-hand men, Abu Yamama al-Yaefi sent shockwaves across much of the south, triggering the most intense clashes in the temporary capital of Aden since the Houthi infiltration in the summer of 2015.

In a statement carried by the official Saba news agency, the government blamed the STC for "the armed escalation... and its dire consequences, which threaten the security and safety of residents" and Aden's stability.

It called on the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition backing the government against Houthi rebels, to "exert urgent and strong pressure on the Transitional Council to prevent any military manoeuvres in the city".

It also called for all armed forces to be incorporated into the state's security apparatus.

Tensions have often run high in Aden between the UAE-backed Security Belt and Saudi-backed forces supporting the Aden-based government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

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