UAE-backed southern separatist leader urges overthrow of Yemen's Saudi-backed government

UAE-backed southern separatist leader urges overthrow of Yemen's Saudi-backed government
The UAE-backed southern separatists leader Hani bin Breik has called on supporters to overthrow the government.
3 min read
07 August, 2019
Hani bin Brek is the deputy chairman of the separatist movement [Twitter]
The UAE-backed southern separatists leader Hani bin Breik has called on supporters to overthrow the Saudi-backed internationally-recognised government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in Aden.

Bin Breik called on supporters to march toward the Maasheeq Palace in the southern coastal city, which has for years played as the temporary capital of the war-torn country.

"We announce a general mobilisation of all our southern forces to march toward the Maasheeq Palace," said Hani Ben Brek, deputy chairman of the Southern Transitional Council.

Bin Breik, one of the UAE's key allies in Yemen and reportedly a close aide of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, accused forces stationed at the presidential headquarters of attacking demonstrators loyal to the separatist movement during a funeral for victims of a recent attack.

At least 49 people were killed in two separate attacks on Thursday in government-held Aden. The first was a suicide car bombing carried out by extremists on a police station, which was followed by a Houthi assault targeting newly trained police cadets, officials said.

A day later, Al-Qaeda gunmen killed 19 soldiers in an attack on an army base in southern Yemen, according to security officials.

On Tuesday, the separatist movement accused the Yemeni government and Islah of being involved in facilitating the Houthi offensive and declared a popular revolt aimed at driving the internationally-recognised legitimate government out of southern cities.

This was soon exacerbated after forces from the presidential guard shot at mourners at a funeral procession for the victims of those killed in the attack on a camp for the UAE-backed security belt forces

"The attack was launched on our defenceless people who wanted a peaceful sit-in in front of Al-Yamamah palace, but were targeted by live fire from Islah's militias," he said.

The UN's human rights office on Tuesday accused southern Yemeni security forces of perpetrating discriminatory attacks against citizens from the country's north in retaliation for a series of attacks committed last week by extremists and rebels.

"We have received information from multiple sources about arbitrary arrests and detention, forced displacement, physical assaults and harassment," spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement.

The UAE-backed Security Belt forces are "reportedly carrying out and enabling retaliatory attacks against civilians" originating from northern Yemen, Shamdasani said.

The UAE is part of a Saudi-led military coalition backing the UN-recognised government against Houthi rebels in the country's conflict.

Shamdasani said the alleged targeting of northerners is "apparent retaliation" for deadly attacks last week by extremists and the rebels.

The UN human rights office cited reports suggesting "security forces searched hotels and restaurants, stopping people, demanding their identification, and rounding up those hailing from the northern parts of Yemen".

"We are continuing to gather... details of the violations they have been subjected to, but initial reports suggest hundreds have already been displaced," said Shamdasani.

"Such arrests and forced displacements breach international human rights and humanitarian law," she added.

Yemen's Prime Minister Moeen Abdulmalik Saeed on Sunday decried "violations of citizens' rights", in a Twitter post warning of negative repercussions for Yemeni unity.

Yemen has been at war for more than four years. 

The Houthis control the capital Sanaa and most cities in northern, central and western regions, while the government maintains a makeshift capital in Aden. 

In the south, where secessionists claim independence, there is strong resentment of citizens from the north.

Southern Yemen was an independent state until 1990 and the north is perceived to have imposed unification by force.

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