Yemen Crisis Deepens As STC Declares Self Governance

In a dramatic turn of events, Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared self-governance in southern provinces of Yemen including the port city of Aden. The internationally recognised Yemeni government and Saudi Arabia – led military coalition in Yemen have rejected the declaration.

On Sunday, the STC had declared a state of emergency and said that it would “self-govern” the Southern port city of Aden and other southern provinces. STC is a paramilitary force that is backed by the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Control of Aden has international implications as almost all trade via Suez Canal has to pass through the Bab al Mandeb strait near which Aden lies. Aden also serves as the interim capital of internationally recognised Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

STC and the Hadi governments were initially allies. Both of them had fought the Houthi groups who had been supported by Iran. However, in August 2019, STC seized Aden and sought self-rule in South Yemen. Fighting between Hadi government and STC continued till November when they reached a deal in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. STC’s declaration of a state of emergency is essentially a withdrawal from the deal.

Soon after the declaration, Yemen’s Foreign Minister issued a statement “The announcement by the so-called transitional council of its intention to establish a southern administration is a resumption of its armed insurgency … and an announcement of its rejection and complete withdrawal from the Riyadh agreement”, as reported by Al Jazeera.

Subsequently, on Monday, the Saudi-led military coalition urged STC to abide by the agreement reached in Riyadh, reported Al Jazeera. The said coalition consisting of nine countries has played a key role in Yemen since its formation in 2015 to provide military support to Hadi government after it was ousted by the Houthi movement following economic and political grievances. Importantly, both Saudi Arabia and UAE are a part of this coalition.

The interest of both countries converges when it comes to keeping Yemen out of Iranian influence. However several analysts believe that UAE wants a division of Yemen into North and South, as it was till the two merged in 1990. Al Jazeera quoted Gamal Gasim, professor of political science at Grand Valley State University in Michigan as saying “The UAE wants to create a vassal state in the south and prevent the port of Aden from becoming a hub for international shipping lanes jeopardizing the viability of its own ports in the contentious Gulf professor of political science at Grand Valley State University in Michigan”

According to US-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the Civil War in Yemen which began in March 2015 has killed over 1, 12,000 people so far.

Picture Credit: Al Jazeera