Four Months Since their Departure: Why Hasn't the Government Returned to Aden?


Sun, 01-08-2021 06:11 PM, Aden

Aden (South24) 

The South and North Yemen parity government which resulted from the Riyadh Agreement between the STC and the Yemeni government, arrived in Aden at the beginning of this year, to suddenly leave it in March after angry local protests, as a result of its failure to resolve and address crises throughout its existence, and for which it was essentially formed.

The departure of the government and its prime minister from Aden - with the exception of the STC-affiliated ministerial bloc - faltered the Riyadh agreement signed between the two parties on November 5, 2019. Maeen Abdulmalik, the prime minister, returned to Riyadh, accompanied by a number of ministers, while others headed to Cairo in Egypt, and the Southern governorate of Hadramout.

Basically, the Riyadh Agreement stipulates the return of the parity government to Aden to carry out its duties, and to resolve the successive crises in the Southern governorates and parts of the Northern governorates (areas liberated from Houthi control); From the collapse of the currency and economy to the interruption of salaries of the armed sector, the low salaries of the civil sector, and other crises that have burdened citizens.

Despite the attempts of the government party in Riyadh to place its withdrawal from Aden in the context of “the lack of security and protection”, it is clear that the reasons of the withdrawal go beyond these weak arguments, according to observers, as the government was largely secured and fortified in the “Maashiq Presidential Palace”, which raised the question of "why did they leave and not come back?"

Disrupting the Riyadh Agreement

Observers believe that the withdrawal and departure of the Yemeni government falls within the attempts to disrupt the Riyadh Agreement, impede it, and strike at the relentless Saudi efforts that culminated in the signing of this agreement. The STC confirms this, accusing "parties affected by the agreement" in the "Yemeni Government" of pressuring to withdraw members of the parity government from Aden.

“Preventing the return of the government is due to the insistence of influential parties in the government to obstruct the implementation of the agreement and work to create unjustified side problems.” Deputy Director of the STC Media Department, Mansour Saleh, told “South24”

Mansour considers that the goal is "to raise the state of tension in the Southern street and increase the suffering of its people," noting that "in the beginning, the justifications were to secure the government, so we confirmed in the STC through our negotiating delegation that with any security plan agreed upon with the Joint Operations Command, and away about linking it to the progress of the Riyadh Agreement, then other justifications were invented.”

The STC has repeatedly called on the government to return to Aden in most of its meetings, considering that its “unjustified” departure constitutes a “clear and explicit violation of the Riyadh Agreement” [1]. The STC showed a kind of "restraint" despite the enormous pressure it is under from the Southern street to step in and end what Southerners consider a "war of services and livelihood" being waged against them.

Saudi Arabia had announced an agreement to "stop all forms of escalation" between the two parties to the Riyadh Agreement, in a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that carried accusations to the STC, after internal political and military appointment decisions issued by the STC's president.

The Saudi statement stressed that "the return of the government is an absolute necessity" for Riyadh, calling on everyone to abide by it and work according to it, but nothing has changed and the government has not yet returned, and it seems - according to analysts - a "weak position" from Riyadh "which is supposed to put more pressure on the return of the government and implement the rest of the terms of the agreement.

Disagreement with Saudi Arabia

According to informed sources which told "South24", that there are "governmental requirements" for Saudi Arabia to provide a budget to return to Aden, while the Kingdom is afraid to give its money to banks "involved in corruption", especially after "the scandal of looting the Saudi deposit estimated at two billion USD by influential parties in Hadi's government", which was reported by UN reports.

Saudi concerns were clearly demonstrated by the “governance mechanism to enhance transparency” adopted by Riyadh in the recent grant of oil derivatives worth $422 million to the electricity sector in Yemen [2], which came to ensure “no manipulation and corruption in the grant,” according to experts.

The editor-in-chief of the "News Yemen" website, Nabil Al-Sufi, confirms to "South24" that the government's real problem is the financial budget.

Al-Sufi says, "since it was formed, the government has clashed with two points. Saudi support has stopped, and Marib and Shabwa did not supply any financial revenues to the central bank. Obviously, the oil money is the custody of a complex arrangement, and the Houthi receives most of the state's revenues."

He continues, "Saudi Arabia said that it will re-discuss the subsidy if revenues are unified, and what Saudi Arabia offers now is implemented through its fund, which has become an executive body and not a donor party." He pointed out that "all this exposed the government to itself, and its ability in expenditures became very limited, and this completely disrupted its ability, and today it is evading these details, as it is not able to declare its bankruptcy, for example, nor objection or initiative."

According to the sources, the government's failure to return to Aden so far goes beyond the "disagreement" with the STC to a "disagreement" with Riyadh as well. Whatever the actual reasons, it seems that leaving Aden is a decision taken by the government and has begun to search for justifications and arguments for it away from its responsibility, according to observers.

The need to return

Observers say that the government's failure to return to Aden to perform the tasks for which it was formed may complicate the completion of the Riyadh Agreement, which means the return of the situation in South Yemen to square zero.

In a previous interview with "South24", the Special Representative of the STC President for Foreign Affairs, Amr Al-Bidh, indicated that the return of the government to Aden "is not enough", and it is not the main demand, but rather its return must be with preparations to perform the tasks entrusted to it. This government was previously in Aden for months, and their presence did not make a difference.

Mansour Saleh asserts that "the return of the government and carrying out their duties is a prerequisite for proceeding with the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, and preventing its disruption, "noting that the STC "will be supportive of it in carrying out its tasks."

For this reason, USA also believes that the government should return to Aden, in order to resolve the service and economic file.

According to a statement released by the US State Department on Friday, during his [recent] meetings, the US special envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, called on the Yemeni government and the STC to work together to improve services and stabilize the economy in the country.

To this end, the US State Department said that a critical first step is to ensure that the necessary conditions are in place for the cabinet to return to Aden.

Lenderking also discussed immediate measures that should be taken to alleviate the humanitarian and economic crisis, including increasing fuel imports, ending fuel and price gouging, and allocating additional economic and humanitarian aid to the country.

With the increasing international trend to put the parties to the Yemeni crisis at one negotiating table in preparation for a comprehensive political solution, it seems that the obstruction caused by the government's absence from Aden in completing the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement - which stated the formation of a joint negotiating delegation with the STC - represents a real obstacle to these efforts. According to analysts and experts.

According to these observers, the pressure towards completing the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, and forcing the government to return to Aden and support it to perform its duties would stir the stagnant waters and increase the chances of a political solution to the crisis, while the failure of the agreement might result in a major renewed crisis in South Yemen, which would make matters worse.

Others pointed out that before all these considerations, the return of the parity government and its work from Aden is a humanitarian necessity primarily, given the accelerated service and economic collapse that Aden and the rest of the governorates are witnessing, which has tragically affected the lives of millions and cast a heavy shadow on them. 

Editor and journalist at South24 Center for News and Studies
- Photo: Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi with the ministers of the new parity government after its formation and taking the constitutional oath. December 26, 2020 (official).