Yemen's newly formed "third government" travels to Riyadh
The former governor of Aden travelled to the Saudi capital Riyadh on Friday a day after announcing the formation of an independent transitional political council to govern the south of Yemen.
A local official in Aden, who spoke to The New Arab on condition of anonymity said that Aidarous al-Zubaidi, a former minister of state controversially dismissed by President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi earlier this month, had departed Aden's airport, accompanied by his new "vice president" Hani Bek Brik, who was also dismissed by Hadi.
After announcing the establishment of the "Southern Transitional Council" on Thursday al-Zubaidi said in a televised speech that he was willing to continue working with the Saudi-led coalition that currently supports Hadi, in an ongoing war against the Iran-backed Houthis.
For his part Ben Brik too has pledged to continue working with the Saudi-lead coalition to uproot "Persian aggression" in the country, while also stating that the formation of a military council constituted a priority to the newly formed council.
Both al-Zubaidi and Ben Brik are known to have close ties to the leadership of the UAE, which is part of the Saudi-led coalition.
However, President Hadi – who was forced to leave the Yemeni capital Sanaa in 2011 after Houthi forcers aligned with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh seized control of the city – has refused to recognize the newly formed council based in Aden, saying in a statement that its formation would serve the Houthis' and Saleh's interests.
Despite Yemen's unification in 1990, secessionists in the south have continued to feel marginalised by power brokers in Sana'a, and have repeatedly called for independence from the north.
Although Hadi hails from the south himself, the official worked as vice president for 18 years under former President Saleh and is thus seen by some southern factions as a product of the international community and a puppet in the hands of the Saudis.
The prospect of a new secession could complicate the war waged by the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi rebels, who remain in control of the capital Sanaa and swathes of north and west Yemen.
The development could lead to the existence of three entities claiming legitimacy over Yemen - Hadi's in Riyadh, the Houthi-Saleh alliance in Sana'a, in addition to the newly formed council claiming to represent the south.
More than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen's ongoing war, which has also pushed the country to the brink of famine.