Yemen's southern separatists prepared for Jeddah talks on Aden crisis

Yemen's southern separatists prepared for Jeddah talks on Aden crisis
The Southern Transitional Council (STC), a major component of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, said it is ready to attend talks in Saudi Arabia.
3 min read
16 August, 2019
The STC captured Yemen earlier this week [Getty]
Yemen’s southern separatists said they were prepared to resolve a standoff in the temporary capital on Thursday by attending a summit in Saudi Arabia.

“We thank Saudi Arabia for its earnest efforts to contain the crisis and invite the parties for talks in Jeddah,” the Southern Transitional Council (STC) said in a statement. “The meeting will be held as soon as necessary arrangements are completed.”

The comments came after 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."

The UAE is part of a Saudi-led military coalition backing the UN-recognised government against Houthi rebels in the country's conflict, however its forces in the south of the country have frequently clashed with Saudi-backed government forces.

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 UAE-backed 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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