The Riyadh Agreement in South Yemen: International Support and Domestic Threats


Tue, 20-04-2021 12:43 AM, Aden Time

Aden (south24)

Voices are increasing warning that the fragile regime of Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi may resort to torpedoing the Riyadh Agreement - signed between Hadi and the Southern Transitional Council (STC)- and declaring a fifth war in South Yemen. Hadi seeks to compensate for the defeats suffered by his forces in northern Marib.

"The Brotherhood of Yemen [the Islamic Islah Party] are preparing for a new war in South to complicate the already complex scene," said a senior official in the STC, Salem Al-Awlaki. He added, in a tweet, "Deterring them is a duty." (1)

The London-based Al-Arab newspaper said that Yemeni political sources, who did not name it, "warned of the escalation of tension between the Southern Transitional Council and influential parties in the Yemeni government, led by the Islah party, which could threaten an upcoming confrontation in light of the political tension and the departure of most of the government's ministers from the interim Yemeni capital, Aden." (2)

The Yemeni Prime Minister, Maeen Abdul-Malik, and a number of his ministers are in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for undisclosed reasons, since the popular demonstrations arrived at the government’s residence in the Maasheeq Palace in Aden to protest against the deterioration of services.

South Yemen is experiencing an escalating state of tension, as a result of the deterioration of services, the high price of the currency, the disruption of salaries, and the failure of the government and the Saudi-led coalition to abide by their financial obligations as stated in the Riyadh Agreement.. (3)

At this time, the deadly attacks of Al-Qaeda (AQAP) increased, targeting the headquarters and security points of the pro-STC Southern Security Belt Forces (SBF) in Abyan and the headquarters of the UAE forces in Shabwa, east of Aden, last March and early April. (4)

The attacks, for which Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, coincided with statements by the former Yemeni Minister of Interior, Ahmed Al-Maysari, to Al-Jazeera, in which he renewed his call  for a raid on Aden. (5)

A southern source told "south24" that the pro-Hadi current Minister of Interior, Major General Ibrahim Haydan is also working to escalate the crisis and is trying to follow the approach of the former minister (Al-Maysari). "south24" could not verify this from an independent source.

In Abyan, sporadic clashes erupted in Ahwar district during the past days, between pro-Hadi forces and others affiliated the STC. Hadi forces seek to control the areas of the SBF.

The two sides reinforced their forces with military vehicles and weapons, according to the Arab newspaper.

The Security Belt Forces have played a prominent role in combating terrorist groups since its establishment in 2016.

Tensions between the STC and President Hadi's forces escalated after STC accused a prominent pro-Hadi military official of kidnapping the brother of a prominent STC official (Abd al-Rahman Sheikh). (6)

The STC accuses Military General Amjad Khaled (commander of the Transport Brigade) of being involved in a "series of terrorist acts". STC demanded the Saudi-led coalition to remove the protection's "cover" of the man.(7)

In Shabwa governorate, security forces of the local authority, which is dominated by the Islah party, arrested the human rights official in the STC, Ahmed Al-Hegl, and prevented an (Iftar) event in the governorate. 

A meeting of the STC Presidium revealed that "in Taiz", as part of the plan to declare war on South, "camps were being built and roads opened for the benefit of the Brotherhood militia [government forces]".(8)

Al-Arab newspaper said, that "the parties opposing the Riyadh agreement and the transitional council are systematically participating in creating security crises and exacerbating the deterioration of services in Aden, with the aim to push the situation of STC' areas to edge of the abyss".

The Saudi parties concerned with implementing the Agreement are are accused of accusations of condoning the violations committed by the pro-Hadi parties. Saudi Arabia continues to support the Islamist-dominated pro-Hadi forces in South.

Riyadh had presented the ceasefire initiative in Yemen, on March 22, which was rejected by the Houthis, and welcomed by STC and the Yemeni government.

The STC's President, Aidaroos Al-Zubaidi meet the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, in Abu Dhabi, April 15, 2021 (official)

The STC is facing these challenges, and at the same time, making extensive diplomatic efforts, as a representative of the southern issue, to participate in the efforts of the UN peace process, following "important" meetings with various international parties in Amman, Jordan, and Abu Dhabi. (9)

In this context, a source familiar with the Abu Dhabi meetings told "south24" that the need to implement the Riyadh Agreement and the participation of the STC in the peace process were internationally stressed and concerned.

Observers warn that the failure to involve the southerners in all stages of the peace negotiations could lead to the failure of the process. 

In its recent statement, the UN Security Council stressed the need to complete the implementation of the provisions of the Riyadh Agreement. (10)

And last Friday, the US State Department said that "In the UAE, Special Envoy Lenderking met with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the importance of full implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.." (11)

During the UN Security Council sessions on Yemen, last week, the representative of the Russian Federation said:  "It is possible to achieve a long-term and comprehensive settlement if the interests of all leading Yemeni forces are considered." (12)

"Hopefully, implementation of the 2019 Riyadh agreement will help focus minds on resolving problems in the south of the country," he added. 

Developments in South Yemen come at a time when the northern city of Marib is just a stone's throw away from the Iranian-backed Houthi militia.

International parties seek to prevent the Houthis from controlling Marib. The fall of the city will change the face of the equation. The Houthis will fully control North Yemen, and this could lead to new solutions that threaten to wipe out the Hadi regime.

In the long term, the Southern Transitional Council is striving to build an independent southern state on the historic borders of 1990, but according to the source that spoke to "south24", it deals "positively" with international peace efforts.

- South24 Center for News and Studies
- Caricature's source: Republican Yemen (Samer) 

Southern Transitional CouncilSouth YemenYemenHouthisRiyadh agreement