Yemeni separatists abandon self-rule, push peace deal

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Transitional Council, Houthi, Yemen
Yemeni pro-government forces parade during a ceremony at Mukalla airport, southwestern Yemen.

Riyadh - Southern Transitional Council pledges to implement stalled Riyadh power-sharing agreement.


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Published: Wed 29 Jul 2020, 12:19 PM

Last updated: Wed 29 Jul 2020, 4:35 PM

Yemeni separatists abandoned their declaration of self-rule in the south on Wednesday and pledged to implement a stalled Saudi-brokered peace deal, mending a rift between allies in the war against Houthi rebels.
The Southern Transitional Council (STC) proclaimed self-governance in April after accusing the government of failing to perform its duties and of "conspiring" against the southern cause, pushing the war-ravaged country deeper into crisis.
The STC "announces that it is abandoning its self-rule declaration" to allow the implementation of a power-sharing deal known as the Riyadh Agreement, spokesman Nizar Haitham wrote on Twitter.
He acknowledged the announcement came after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates exerted pressure to row back on their decision.

Saudi Arabia said it had proposed a plan to "accelerate" the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported early Wednesday.
The plan calls for the Yemeni prime minister to form a new government within 30 days, as well as the appointment of a new governor and security director for second city Aden where the government had set up base.
"Once this is implemented, the government should commence its work in Aden, and oversee the completion of the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement in accordance with all its clauses and tracks," SPA said, citing an unnamed Saudi official.
Yemen's internationally recognised government welcomed the announcement, with spokesman Rajeh Badi expressing hope that this would be a "serious and true start" to implementing the Riyadh Agreement.
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi separately announced the appointment of a new police commander and governor for Aden.
Saudi Arabia's efforts "have succeeded in bringing together the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council in accepting the mechanism proposed by the kingdom to implement the Riyadh Agreement," deputy defence minister Prince Khalid bin Salman said on Twitter.
If it holds, the breakthrough should allow the Saudi-led coalition and its allies to refocus their energies on the war against their common foe - the Houthi rebels.
"This largely means the Saudis want to de-escalate in Yemen and push the warring parties towards peace," Fatima Abo Alasrar, a scholar at the Middle East Institute, said.
"Currently, without a united response, the Saudis, the Yemeni government and the STC are on the defensive in the war, not offensive, because the Houthis are attacking their areas with impunity."
Yemen's separatists - who have long agitated for independence in the south - had signed the power-sharing deal in Riyadh last November that sought to quell the "civil war within a civil war".
The Riyadh agreement had been welcomed as preventing the break-up of Yemen, and hailed as a possible stepping stone towards ending the wider conflict.
Wednesday's breakthrough comes as Houthi rebels are again on the offensive against government forces, with no end in sight to Yemen's long conflict.

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