Saudi-Led Coalition Moves against UAE-Backed Separatists in Aden

Tuesday, 13 Aug, 2019

He said also that loyalist forces had a plan to assassinate STC leaders and undermine the separatist "cause" and therefore his campaign was in "self-defence".

Rifts have emerged over the past 18 months between the southern separatists, backed by the UAE, and forces aligned with Yemen's government, backed by Saudi Arabia.

The flareup in Aden marks the most significant setback for the coalition since it went to war in Yemen in 2015 to unseat Iran-backed Houthi rebels after they overran the capital Sana'a.

Since the fighting flared on Thursday, around 40 people have been killed and 260 others including civilians wounded, according to the UN. Hadi was supposed to be based at the site but it remains largely empty as the ex-president lives in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

There have always been tensions within the coalition between northerners who fled to the south during the Houthis' 2014 advance and southerners who once had their own state and want greater autonomy or outright independence.

The Western-backed, Sunni Muslim coalition said it attacked an area that poses a "direct threat" to the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which is temporarily based in Aden.

During the visits, the senior officers stressed that the UAE is always committed to its role in Yemen under the framework of the Arab Coalition, and will continue performing its tasks with efficiency, and help rebuild the Yemeni Army.

The conflict complicates UN efforts to end the four-year war that has killed tens of thousands and left millions in the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation on the brink of starvation.

In a statement carried by Emirates News Agency on Monday, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan "affirmed that the UAE and Saudi Arabia call on conflicting Yemeni parties to prioritise dialogue and reason for the interest of Yemen and its people".

But Yemen's government has accused the STC and the UAE of staging a "coup" against it.

Already, the militia had been fighting Hadi loyalists in Aden for four days, but the coalition had not intervened, until now.

"We can not find safe roads to flee the clashes".

"We are decreasing our staff numbers in Aden until we can determine that we can safely perform all our tasks once more", United Nations spokesman Farhan Haq said in NY on Monday.

Yemeni officials said the UAE-backed fighters had withdrawn from the streets but still held military positions seized in recent days, and were still stationed outside the presidential palace.

The source said that all the Presidential Guard troops tasked with securing the government withdrew from the areas surrounding the palace. All of them spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.

The sources, requesting not to be named, told Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network that Yemeni security forces had managed to capture 80 percent of the members of the cell, adding that they are undergoing an in-depth investigation.