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The De-facto Truce: South Yemen is the «Victim of the Distorted Peace»


Sat, 31-12-2022 12:08 AM, Aden Time

Abdullah Al-Shadli (South24) 

Although 90 days passed since the expiration of the UN truce in Yemen without reaching an agreement to renew or expand it, the truce practically has been in effect by one side in favor of the Houthis in return for unprecedented military escalation launched by the Iran-backed group against South Yemen.

The elements of the collapsed truce such as the flow of fuel to the Port of Hodeidah and the continuity of flight from and to Sanaa have not so far stopped. Meanwhile, the Houthis impose a siege on South Yemen to prevent exporting oil after a series of attacks which targeted oil ports in Hadramout and Shabwa. [1]

Over October and November, drones attacked the oil port of Dabba in Hadramout along with other oil ports in Rudum and Shabwa districts. The latest attack against the Port of Dabba caused wide damages in the oil export pump.

Accordingly, oil production has stopped in most sectors in Shabwa and Hadramout amid warnings of the dire repercussions on people's lives in South Yemen in addition to the fierce economic impact of halting the main revenues in the country.

The De-facto truce 

It is clear that the continuous presence of the de-facto truce, even with its current distorted form, largely represents the regional and international desire in Yemen.

On December 22nd, Gabriel Munuera Viñals, Head of EU's Delegation in Yemen, said: "The UN-brokered truce is still de facto holding, yet remains fragile". [2]

In a speech delivered in front of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa of the US House of Representatives, US Envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking confirmed that the main elements of the truce are still in effect. [3]

On December 19th, the Houthis announced that there are ongoing talks with KSA regarding ending the war. Al-Masirah Channel said that the "Supreme Political Council examines the ongoing talks with the Coalition related to lifting the siege". [4]

In mid November, Gulf sources revealed to "South24 Center" that there is a Saudi offer to the Houthis in return for extending the truce officially.

According to the sources, Riyadh delivered an offer to the Houthis, via Oman, to pay the salaries of all Yemeni employees in return for renewing the truce. The proposal, which was rejected by the Houthis, included paying the governmental salaries which amount to over 150 million dollars a month.

On December 21st, an Omani delegation headed to Sanaa, which is controlled by the Houthis, to discuss prolonging the truce [5] as part of the mediation efforts by the Sultanate which has hosted the Head of the Houthi negotiating delegation recently.

The Omani delegation met with Mahdi Al-Mashat, the Head of the Houthi Political Council, who affirmed the group's adherence to its demands for the payment of salaries to the military and civilians in the group's areas from oil and gas revenues in South Yemen. [6]

Calls for withdrawal 

During an interview with Al-Arabiya Channel on December 19th, PLC’s Chairman Rashad Al-Alimi attributed the continuous application of the truce's elements in favor of the Houthis to be a result of humanitarian considerations of people. [7]

He said: "The legitimate government can stop the flow of fuel to the Port of Hodeidah and halting the flights of the Sanaa Airport but we take into consideration the humanitarian conditions of people in the areas controlled by the Houthis".

He added: "The Yemeni people blame the government for providing concessions to the Houthis. The truce is still standing from one side. Today the war has stopped on our part but the Houthis declared the continuation of the war. This exposed them in front of the Yemeni people".

Al-Alimi said that the international community pressures the Yemeni government under the pretext that "it is a legitimate institution while the Houthis are militias" according to him.

However, it does not seem that Al-Alimi's statements represent the PLC's stance as a whole. Some parties in PLC called for withdrawing from the collapsed truce and the Stockholm Agreement (2018) regarding Al-Hodeidah which ensured the Houthi control on the most important oil ports on the Red Sea. 

Previously, the Consultation and Reconciliation Commission asked PLC to “reconsider” the Stockholm Agreement and the truce one day after the Houthi attack on the Port of Dabba in Hadramout. [8]

On October 25th, STC called for the declaration of public mobilization against the Houthis and to end the Stockholm Agreement as well as the UN truce. [9]

In a statement, STC said: “the ongoing recognition of these agreements after the latest hostile attacks will push the Iran-backed Houthis to go further, which requires dealing with it firmly”. 

Although the decision taken by the National Defense Council on October 22nd to designate the Houthis as “a terrorist group”, no practical measures have been taken against the Houthis so far.

South Yemen is a victim

There is no doubt that South Yemen has been so far the biggest loser from the continuous application of the collapsed truce from one side in favor of the Houthis. 

Halting oil production threatens to duplicate the tragic sufferings of millions of people who have already suffered from arduous and suffocating crises for years, especially in the field of basic services, food prices and the salaries. 

In the televised interview, Al-Alimi said that the Yemeni government will face “problems and shortages” to pay the employees’ salaries as of this month due to the discontinuation of oil revenues because of the Houthi attacks. 

Later, in a virtual meeting of PLC’s members, the Presidential Leadership Council stressed that it is committed to continue making the economic and financial reforms as well as paying the employees’ salaries”. [10]

Over the past years, the military employees in South Yemen have faced irregularity in receiving their salaries for more than 6 months a year sometimes. Moreover, civil sector employees, especially teachers, call for the increase of their low salaries.

Southern political analyst Nasr Al-Esae described the current circumstances as being "a conspiracy against South Yemen".

He told "South24 Center" that "there is another type of conspiracy against South Yemen. South has to prepare for this battle and for any military, political and economic equations intended to impose certain conditions that impede development in South Yemen".

"There is an approach adopted by the international community and the UN to put an end to the crisis in Yemen. The Houthis exploit this approach to gain new concessions," he said.

He added: "The Houthis have sought to liquefy the political process and delay reaching a solution of the crisis through imposing certain conditions including the enslavement of the people in North and the colonization of the people in South".

On the other hand, political analyst Nabil Al-Soufi believes that the collapsed truce is not the reason for South Yemen’s problems.

He told "South24 Center": "South Yemen's suffering is neither because of the truce nor targeting the legitimacy's resources but it is due to the legitimacy's debilitated vision in addition to the regional confusion".

He added: "STC achieves important political leaps. It only has to be more cohesive, to take into account regional conditions on the one hand, and to continue mobilization and arranging South Yemen’s reality".

He believes that "STC has done its best to pressure but regional and international political complexities require more cohesion".

Points of strength 

Al-Esae believes that South Yemen enjoys many points of strength that can be employed to influence the regional and international forces. This included the prominent and only role of the Southern forces in the war against "terrorist and extremist groups".

He said that "counterterrorism is not the responsibility of the Southern forces alone but it is also a regional and international task because this terrorist group not only targets South Yemen but the regional and international security in general".

He added: "Many international parties don’t look at the Yemen crisis except through the counterterrorism file and to benefit from the Yemeni crisis by political quarrels with some regional forces.

With the lack of any positive impact of the previous truce and its subsequent de-facto one in South Yemen, it seems that the full withdrawal from any remaining obligations of the truce represents one of the most important lines of defense to protect South Yemen’s people from the new war declared by the Houthis.

It is likely that any considerations or regional or international efforts will at best reach a new truce that aligns with the “radical" Houthi conditions which basically target South Yemen’s resources.

Abdullah Al-Shadli 

Journalist at South24 Center for News and Studies

South YemenYemeni WarHouthisPLCSTCArab CoalitionDabba Port