Al-Zubaidi holding a discussion session with the President of the Republic of Kosovo, September 20, 2023 (official)

Aidrous Al-Zubaidi Draws Inspiration of Countries’ Independence Experiences from New York


Sat, 23-09-2023 01:19 PM, Aden

New York (South24) 

On September 18, the Southern Transitional Council (STC) President and Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) member, Aidrous Al-Zubaidi, arrived in New York City on a plane that also carried the PLC Chairman Rashad Al-Alimi and other senior officials.

It was the first time that a Southern politician officially affiliated with South Yemen's independence movement had set foot in the United Nations (UN) headquarters in decades. It also represented, over the course of days, Al-Zubaidi’s largest foreign diplomatic participation, and his first visit to the United States (US).

With Al-Alimi, Al-Zubaidi participated in the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). This was the primary goal of the visit, but the numerous side meetings topped the Southern official's activity in the "city that never sleeps."

Aidrous Al-Zubaidi with his accompanying delegation in New York (official).

In the United Nations

In a similar manner, Al-Zubaidi appeared alongside Rashad Al-Alimi at the 78th session of the UNGA. The duality of South and North seemed clearer than ever in the most important international forum.

Al-Zubaidi said his goal in participating “is to ensure that the situation in Yemen remains on the UN agenda, and that the legitimate voices of South are heard.” Adding: “This is our message here: our people must be at the forefront of determining our future.”

Aidrous Al-Zubaidi and Rashad Al-Alimi at the 78th session of the UNGA (official).

Noteworthy encounters

Hours after his arrival, and ahead of the UN session, Al-Zubaidi met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as part of the Yemeni delegation that included Rashad Al-Alimi. Al-Zubaidi said that the meeting was “fruitful” on his account on “X” platform.

"We discussed the current humanitarian situation and the best path to peace. We stressed that the only permanent solution to the conflict in Yemen is through a comprehensive political process that addresses all the root causes of the conflict," he added.

Blinken expressed his appreciation for the visit of Al-Alimi and Al-Zubaidi in a statement released by the US State Department.

On September 20, Al-Zubaidi reviewed the latest developments in the situation in Yemen with the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit. Al-Zubaidi described the meeting he had separately as “warm.”

The next day, Al-Zubaidi, accompanied by Al-Alimi, met with representatives from the US, United Kingdom, and France. Before that, he had met with Al-Alimi, the US Special Envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, and Bahrain.

Al-Zubaidi also met separately on the same day with the UAE Foreign Minister. Al-Zubaidi reiterated the exceptional relations between Abu Dhabi and Aden, and said that they will seek together a comprehensive solution to the conflict in Yemen.

Al-Zubaidi also met separately with Ambassador Stephen Hickey, Director of Middle East and North Africa Affairs at the British Foreign Office.

On September 22, Al-Zubaidi met separately with Mirjana Spoljaric, the President of International Committee of the Red Cross, Abdallah Al Dardari, director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States of the United Nations Development Programme, and Carlos Pinto Pereira, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guinea-Bissau.

Along with Al-Alimi, he also met the British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden. Al-Zubaidi stressed peace in Yemen that is consistent with “ground data.” Accompanied by Al-Alimi, he also met with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Martin Griffiths.

In a final meeting, Al-Zubaidi, accompanied by Al-Alimi, met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Aidrous Al-Zubaidi and Rashad Al-Alimi met the UN Secretary-General in New York (official).

Inspired by independence

Drawing inspiration from the experiences of countries’ independence took an important part in Al-Zubaidi’s meetings in New York. On September 21, he met separately with Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, President of the Republic of Kosovo, which gained independence from Serbia in 2008 after a long struggle.

He said on "X" platform: “I learned about the unique experience of the Republic of Kosovo in its struggle to achieve peace and build the state. This inspiring experience was achieved by granting the Kosovar people their right to self-determination.”

In a meeting with the South Sudanese Foreign Minister James Morgan, Al-Zubaidi praised the “bitter struggle” of the people of the country, which fought a long military conflict with its neighbor Khartoum until its independence only 12 years ago [2011], through a referendum.

In the third similar meeting, Al-Zubaidi met with Bendito Freitas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of East Timor, which gained its formal independence from Indonesia in 2002, after a quarter of a century of “military occupation.”

During a meeting with Denzil Douglas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Al-Zubaidi listened to the small country's experience "in building state institutions, consolidating social peace, and its political experience in gaining a UN membership."

He also congratulated the State of Slovenia for its success in obtaining non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council, last June, in a meeting with State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Samuel Žbogar.

In the international media

Clearly, major media outlets were keen to interview Aidrous Al-Zubaidi while he was in New York to hear a Southern point of view that had been overlooked years earlier. The beginning was with The Guardian newspaper.

Al-Zubaidi made major statements to the newspaper that focused on the current developments, most notably the arrival of a delegation from the Iranian-backed Houthis, on its first announced visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to hold political talks mediated by Oman.

"We have been sidelined and pushed to one side in the talks in Riyadh,” Al-Zubaidi said. “We know about what is happening from the media.”

Al-Zubaidi reiterated that "only [… South] can decide about [… South’s] resources." The statement came in light of the Houthis' insistence on paying the salaries of employees in North Yemen from oil and gas resources that are concentrated in South.

Al-Zubaidi warned of a "bad" deal that might be concluded with the Houthis that would allow them to extend their control. Adding: "Iran, through the Houthis will take control of the oilwells of the south and the Bab el-Mandeb trade route through which billions of dollars of oil flow".

The British newspaper said that the PLC Chairman Rashad Al-Alimi does not enjoy the same popular support in South that the STC does.

In a televised interview with the "BBC", Al-Zubaidi recalled the broad outlines of the STC policy. He said that the relationship with Saudi Arabia is strong, as is the relationship with the UAE, and he strongly stressed the fulfillment of the will of Southerners.

Aidrous Al-Zubaidi on the BBC (cropped image).

Despite the overwhelming votes in favor of independence and the return of the state of South, Al-Zubaidi said that he would not anticipate events or decide on behalf of the people. He called for a UN-sponsored referendum in which Southerners would determine their future.

For him, Southerners do not demand more than what is found in the UN articles that guarantee people's freedom of choice. 

Al-Zubaidi pointed out that his presence in New York as Vice Chairman of the PLC means that he also carries out the issues of Yemenis as a whole.

Yesterday, Friday, Al-Zubaidi also made striking statements to the Associated Press. He said that the recent Riyadh talks "were preliminary, and the STC plans to participate at a later stage".

He added: "We demand the return of South's state, with full sovereignty, and this will happen by starting negotiations with the Houthis, and the negotiations will certainly be long".

Al-Zubaidi's visit to New York ended on Friday. He is expected to return, accompanied by Rashad Al-Alimi, to Riyadh to join the remaining PLC members.

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