Saudi Arabia and STC in South Yemen: What is the problem?


Wed, 17-03-2021 04:48 PM, Aden

South24's Word 

The escalating popular protests in South Yemen have placed Saudi Arabia as the leader of the coalition in Yemen and the sponsor of the Riyadh Agreement signed between the Southern Transitional Council (STC) and the Hadi government, facing great responsibilities and challenges, after the increase in services collapse, the deterioration of the living situation and the disruption of salaries in the cities of South Yemen.

These developments threaten to thwart the Riyadh Agreement, in light of the current international efforts to resolve the crisis in Yemen.

These protests prompted the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs to condemn the "storming" of the demonstrators to Al-Maasheeq Palace in the "strongest terms", calling on the Yemeni government and the STC to an urgent meeting in Riyadh.

Hours earlier, the new government in Aden appealed to the Saudi-led coalition and the international community to swiftly support it economically to meet the "accumulated obligations." In a statement, the government stressed the need to "urgently support it before an economic collapse, whose effects will be significant at all levels."

The Saudi Foreign Ministry affirmed its support for the Yemeni government, which began its duties in Aden on December 30, headed by Maeen Abdul-Malik, noting "the importance of giving it the full opportunity to serve the Yemeni people in light of the current difficult humanitarian and economic conditions."

Riyadh has repeatedly promised to provide support to the new parity government, in order to recover the deteriorating conditions of the people, improve their living standards, and make the government's efforts in this path successful. However, since the arrival of the new government in Aden, these promises have not been fulfilled, according to government sources.

Immediately following the formation of the government last December, the Supreme Economic Council announced, in a press statement, the arrival of approval to withdraw batch No. (39) from the Saudi deposit, with a total amount of $ 94 million, to cover what was described by "requests for opening documentary credits for the import of basic commodities." Since then, the government has not been bolstered by any other economic support.

The UN experts' report issued last January accused the Central Bank of Yemen and the previous government of engaging in corruption and money laundering activities that accompanied the Saudi deposit in 2018.

South Yemen has been experiencing a dire humanitarian situation since the Houthis invaded Aden in March 2015, which intensified with the departure of the UAE and its relief efforts from the country in October 2019.

Who is responsible for that?

The Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Muhammad Al Jaber, said in previous statements that the services file is the responsibility of the new government. In an attempt to exempt the role of Riyadh from its duties towards the government. But the services file needs economic resources and support.

"The situation in Aden and the neighboring provinces is still difficult," the UN envoy Martin Griffiths said on Tuesday in a speech to the UN Security Council. He added, "Improving basic services, including the ability to obtain electricity, ensuring that government employees are paid salaries, and ensuring security and stability of the economy will require more resources. Currently, there is a shortage of these resources."

The protesters' demands were sympathetic to the British ambassador to Yemen, Michael Aaron, in a tweet posted Tuesday on Twitter. "Implementing the Riyadh Agreement is the key ... and the government needs resources to achieve reform and improve conditions," Aaron said.

Although the STC announced the adoption of a number of measures and security measures to "confront any acts of deliberate sabotage and chaos in the capital, Aden," the protests in Aden were of a high degree of peace and awareness. The protesters expressed their demands in front of the government headquarters, then withdrew from there after the intervention of STC's security and political leaders.

"Economic blockade"

Informed sources told “south24” that what the southern people are exposed to in Aden and the regions of South Yemen is an “economic blockade,” whose aim is to push the Transitional Council to abandon its political demands, which it repeatedly expresses, and insists on the need for its participation as an active and independent party in negotiations of comprehensive solution to the Yemeni crisis.

On Tuesday, the STC announced its support for "peaceful popular demands," and stressed that "resolving the southern issue is the key to peace, stability and security in the Arab region and the Gulf of Aden."

Today, Wednesday, the STC "welcomed the invitation issued by the Saudi Foreign Ministry", which called on the parties to the Riyadh agreement to go to the Kingdom. [1]

The STC spokesman, Ali Al-Kathiri, said that the council affirms "the importance of completing the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, including the start of consultations for the formation of the joint negotiating delegation ... which will deal with ceasefire understandings, the humanitarian file, and the political process consultations, in a manner that guarantees the rights and legitimate national aspirations of the southern people."

Yesterday, Saudi activists, journalists and others working in the office of the Yemeni president residing in Riyadh attacked the STC. Media affiliated with Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood did so against popular protests in Aden and Hadramout.

Saudi analyst Sulaiman Al-Aqili described, during a call with the Yemen Channel,  the people of Aden as a mob, and demanded that matters be resolved in Aden by force, in reference to waging a war against the southerners. [2]

The Saudi journalist, director of the Arab Independent, Adhwan Al-Ahmari, said that "the storming of the Maasheeq Palace is a golden service to the Houthi," and called on the protesters to go to Marib "to support legitimacy." [3]

The speech of some Saudi activists reflects a profound misunderstanding of the reality, demands, and will of the people in southern Yemen, and this further complicates the problem.

Observers believe that Saudi Arabia is seeking to conclude a solution deal with the Iranian-backed Houthi militia, to end the war in Yemen, without involving the Southern Council in the political process, a matter that the STC has repeatedly warned of and expressed its refusal to abide by any agreement that it is not a party to.

In recent weeks, there has been a remarkable rapprochement between Riyadh and the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to extend its control over South Yemen, and is present with the support of the coalition in the southern oil regions in Shabwa and Wadi Hadramout. These Islamic forces, which control the presidency of Yemen, still refuse to withdraw their forces from Shabwa and Wadi Hadramout to fight the Houthis, according to what was stipulated in the military part of the Riyadh Agreement.

The forces of the First Military Region had suppressed peaceful popular protests by force, in the city of Seiyun last Monday, which resulted in at least six people being injured and others arrested.

Saudi foreign policy does not seem to have a vision to solve the complex crises in Yemen, but it is aware, most likely, that the loss of popular support in southern Yemen will reinforce the failure of the coalition that it leads, and will push matters to more chaos.

On the other hand, the southerners do not hope to lose a strategic ally like Saudi Arabia, but in return they will not submit to the systematic policy of impoverishment that the successive Yemeni governments have adopted - with the Saudia’s knowledge - as a way to deter people from adhering to their national cause and their just demands for an independent state and a free and decent life.

The service war, the continuing economic collapse, the starvation policy, and ignoring the Southerners's will are the only ones that provide the Houthi militia with free services on a golden plate.

Adensouth yemenSTCSaudia ArabiaHoouthisYemen war