After a Year of Changes: How Will 2022 Look for South Yemen?


Sun, 09-01-2022 02:56 PM, Aden

Reem Al-Fadhli (South24) 

Over the past year, South Yemen witnessed several changes and transformations, some of which are about to produce results with the advent of 2022. Some tracks of the new year began to unfold along with those defining shifts at the political, economic and military spheres. 

In this report, "South24" explores the opinions of politicians, intellectuals, economists and security officials about those changes and their possible impact on the Southern scene during 2022.


Researcher and Political Activist Huda Al-Attas told “South24" that 2021 was full of important events in the Yemeni scene in general and the Southern one in particular. 

One of the most prominent events at the political level is "the larger empowerment of South Yemen, led by the STC, and its rise to the forefront and headlines equally with other political parties" according to Al-Attas.

Al-Attas indicated that "the STC's moves and political negotiations in light of the Riyadh Agreement's discussions and the meetings held by its leaders with numerous international parties are indicators about its empowerment in the political map process as being a partner among other parties, as well as its strong relationship with the Arab Coalition”.

“This confirms the STC’s proficiency in managing the political game, in addition to the experience and political maturity it has gained” according to Al-Attas who noticed that the “horrific” living, economic and security conditions in South Yemen last year came in conjunction with a stormy political scene. The year ended by curbing the influence of the Islah Party inside the internationally-recognized government of Yemen as a party which used to dominate and hijack its decision making for years”.

Al-Attas believes that the dismissal of former Shabwa Governor, Mohammed bin Adyo, is a “coronation” of the political scene in 2021, referring to the ensuing events which include the appointment of a new governor and deploying the Southern Giant Forces to liberate three of Shabwa’s districts seized by the Iran-backed Houthis in September. 

Speaking about the points of optimism, Al-Attas said that “they are illustrated by the qualitative Hadrami moves at the end of the year, as well as supporting and sympathizing with a slogan which underscores the unity of the struggle and the common Southern goal since the start of the peaceful Southern Movement (Hirak)”. 

She referred to demands raised by grassroot escalation in Hadramout, the biggest Southern governorate including the exit of the Northern forces in the 1st Military District, affiliated with Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, and the deployment of the Hadrami Elite instead of them. 

No more polarization

For his part, Journalist and Political Researcher Hussam Radman said:” with much confidence, it can be said that Aden is no longer the point of political and security polarization like last year”. 

He told “South24” that Aden in the meantime “is an arena for building political consensus at two levels: the first one is among the internationally-recognized government’s components while the second is among the two parties of the Arab Coalition. This comes as part of completing the Riyadh Agreement’s political side”. 

As for the indicators upon which he builds this opinion, Radman said: “They include the permanent return of the government to Aden, the PM’s visit to Abu Dhabi, and the visit by STC’s President to Riyadh”, adding that “the most important is “the return of the Central Bank’s leadership after appointing new board of directors”. 

He continued: “totally, a series of security and economic factors combine to enhance the state of relative stability during the current year”, adding that “it is known that converging efforts of all local parties to confront the Houthis will positively impact the position of the liberated areas and vice versa”. 

Radman believes that “the high-pace continuity of Shabwa battles and the Houthis’ retreat would act as a factor for unifying efforts”. However, he noticed that “the relationship is subjected to regression at any time due to the sharp conflict of interests within the structure of the Yemeni internationally-recognized government”.  

He pointed to “another guarantee” for relative stability and the end of polarization during the current year represented in “the return of the KSA-UAE understandings to the pre-2018 level”. 

Economic situation

The Southern economic crisis was the worst in South Yemen in 2021. Despite the hopes emanating from some of the recent changes at the end of the year including changing the Central Bank’s board of directors and reports about deposits and financial aids, the economic conditions this year don’t look much promising unless making several other changes according to experts. 

In that regard, Dr. Najat Jamaan, Member of the Advisory Team in the Office of the UN Envoy to Yemen told "South24": “With the advent of the new year, the tools of Yemeni Government and Presidency should include adherence by the principle of good governance and the right management of the sovereign sources in a way that serves the economic development”.    

She said that “the governmental, military and economic institutions have to set clear and public goals and connect them with clear budgets along with effective distribution, restructuring the governmental leadership and providing qualified Yemeni cadres to implement this plan”.

She stressed on the need for “establishing and activating constant mechanisms to assess performance along with monitoring and following-up to ensure achieving the goals and the transparency related to budget’s tools and expenses. 

Jamaan rules out an improvement of the economic situation and expects the continuity of “the whirlpool of poverty, price hikes and looting of sovereign wealth far from achieving the national interests and the fair distribution of wealth which is owned by all Yemenis”. 

Economic Journalist Wafik Saleh believes that “the treatment of wrongdoings is a matter related to the Yemeni Government and the Central Bank alike”. 

Saleh told “South24” that “the government should do its best to activate exports, mend the flaws in the governmental institutions by combating corruption, developing and improving the state’s public resources, unifying revenues, reducing foreign exchange payments, and stopping the payment of government officials’ salaries in hard currency, but in Yemeni riyals”. 

“The state’s public finances should be activated along with preparing the financial budget for establishing transparency in addition to relying upon a clear and transparent base that prevents the spread of corruption and helps to restore economic stability” he added. 

As for the cash, Saleh said that “the Central Bank has to control the management of the exchange market and activate the tools of monetary policy to dominate the banking activities, as well as curbing currency speculation, maintaining the stability of exchange rates and prevent covering the governmental spending by using inflatory sources”. 

Wafik Saleh underscored the need to “find real and sustainable sources for the Central Bank through harnessing all forms of international support, foreign grants as well as collecting all sources of local and foreign cash and not allowing spending them randomly without financial budget along with closing all governmental accounts in other banks indoors and outdoors”.  

As for reports about a new Saudi deposit to Yemen, Najat Jamaan said: “such a deposit won’t be better than its predecessor, and could be worse. It will be used to fund dubious operations, warlords and influential figures. Thus, its impact on the real economy won’t be attained”. 

In January 2021, a report, issued by UN Security Council Committee of Experts on Yemen accused the Yemeni Government and the Central Bank of money laundering related to the Saudi deposit in 2018”. [1]

On the other hand, Wafik Saleh believes that the possible deposit could help in “making a sort of living and supply stability by providing the Central Bank with amounts of foreign exchange that enables it to carry out its role of importing the basic commodities”.  However, according to him, setting long-term measures should be accompanied by a wide economic reforms process. 

Security stability

In 2021, South Yemen, especially Aden, witnessed a series of bloody and violent attacks which killed soldiers and civilians alike. Moreover, assassination operations using explosives, targeted officials, officers and civilian figures. In October, Aden experienced an atmosphere of war due to clashes between armed elements and the security forces in the city of Crater in which they used heavy, medium and light weapons”. 

However, the security ability this year has been proved after the security forces unfolded the threads and details of the biggest two “bloody” operations that hit the governorate including the attempt to assassinate Aden Governor, Ahmed Lamlas by a car bomb explosion that killed 7 persons and injured others and another car bomb explosion in front of the Aden International Airport that left dozens of dead and injured. 

In an indication of the great progress regarding security and intelligence performance, the security forces managed to reveal the parties behind those operations (the Houthis and military commanders affiliated with the Islah Party) and arrested some of those involved. 

Speaking to “South24” about the security readiness in the current year in Aden and South Yemen, Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammed Al-Naqeeb, the Spokesperson of the  Southern Security and Military Forces said: “In addition to the experience the security institutions gained over last years in maintaining security and combating terrorism and the successes achieved related to that, they were have been restructured, organized, qualified, and developed through top leveled-courses and qualification programs”. 

He noticed that all of that “is a practical and procedural reflection to efforts made by STC President Aidrous Al-Zubaidi, along with the specialized committees that included veteran leaders and experts in the security field”. 

He added: “Those efforts and plans constituted a comprehensive strategy related to preparing, training, psychological qualification of security staff as well as improving their skills and their ability to perform their duties”. Furthermore, all security bodies became under one leadership”. 

Al-Naqeeb pointed out that “the developed security performance is a result of accumulated experience, qualification, training, development and discipline. This applies to our security bodies as shown in its high readiness to perform its duties in the new year 2022 including maintaining security and combating crime, particularly those related to terrorism”. 

He indicated that the latest successes achieved by the security bodies in Aden “are certainly indicators that the new year will be a starting point for a new more powerful and worthy stage in the face of any terrorist crimes”. 

“In South Yemen, we face terrorism, managed and funded by political powers hostile to South’s people and army. However, we have been able to thwart them by a front which gathered both security elements and ordinary citizens”. He concluded. 

Journalist and editor at South24 Center for News and Studies
Photo: STC President Aidrous Al-Zubaidi, with the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Security Council during a meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 22, 2021 (official)

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