Yemen southern separatists ‘willing to collaborate with Israel’ against Houthis
Yemen’s separatist Southern Transitional Council has reportedly expressed interest in cooperating with Israel against the country’s Houthi rebels, who have been targeting ships they say are linked to Israel in the Red Sea, Israeli media reported.
Israel’s state-owned Kan 11 broadcaster reported that the STC, which is backed by the United Arab Emirates and seeks independence for southern Yemen, had shown “surprising readiness to cooperate with Israel” against the Houthis.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Monday launched a cruise missile at a Norwegian tanker which they said was delivering oil to Israel.
Last month they captured a ship owned by an Israeli businessman and have vowed to target any Israeli ship trying to cross the Red Sea, saying that this was to support Palestinians suffering a brutal Israeli military campaign in Gaza.
Kan 11 said that Aidarous Al-Zubaidi, the head of the STC, had held several meetings with officials from the UAE and the US, as well as local Yemeni officials, to discuss the Houthi escalation in the Red Sea.
In an English-language tweet posted on Saturday, Al-Zubaidi said that the STC’s naval forces could play “a crucial role” in “protecting international shipping lanes” and “the economic security of the international community”.
Our naval forces possess the necessary competencies and capabilities to play a crucial role in safeguarding our territorial waters, enhancing maritime security, and protecting international shipping lanes. Alongside the Coast Guard forces and our international partners, we will… pic.twitter.com/Wmn2aPHi0o— عيدروس الزُبيدي - Aidaros Alzubidi (@AidrosAlzubidi) December 9, 2023
Kan 11 reported that an official close to Al-Zubaidi, which it did not name, said that the STC “was concerned with confronting Houthi terrorism and getting international support, including from Israel”.
The Southern Transitional Council are backed by the UAE and seek to separate from Yemen. Yemen was previously divided into two countries – North Yemen and South Yemen - which united in 1990.
In 2021, the STC said it was prepared to normalise relations with Israel if Israel would recognise a separate South Yemeni state.
Yemen’s complex civil war has calmed down notably ever since a Chinese-brokered reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
It began in 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthis captured the capital Sana’a from the internationally recognised government, which fled to the south of the country.
The internationally recognised government has been supported militarily by Saudi Arabia while the UAE has backed the STC separatists.