Saudi Arabian forces have taken over the port city of Aden in southern Yemen after its ally, the government of Abd-Raboo Mansour Hadi, and the UAE-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) reached an agreement. This ends the feud between the two factions of the Saudi-led coalition fighting against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Armed conflict between the Hadi government and the STC began in August, leading to the latter taking over the city.
In accordance with the agreement, the UAE has withdrawn its troops from Aden. The STC said, “The UAE has withdrawn from the Al-Anad airbase located north of Aden, the international airport in Aden, and another port, transferring control of the three locations to Saudi troops.”
Saudi forces will now be responsible for the security of the city and its suburbs. Indirect talks between the two parties, arranged by Saudi Arabia, had been going on for the past month in Jeddah. Proposals in the agreement included making the STC part of a reformed Hadi government and integrating its forces into Hadi’s forces. In return, the STC would hand over Aden to the Saudis, to be followed by the formation of a neutral security force.
The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis captured the capital Sanaa, expelling the Hadi government from its seat of power. The STC represents a movement to create a separate state of South Yemen, comprising mainly the southern parts of the country, with Aden as its capital. The STC is funded and militarily backed by the UAE, which although also a part of the Saudi coalition, has at times pursued an independent policy in Yemen. It has backed several militias that do not necessarily see eye to eye with the Saudi-backed Hadi government.
The Saudi-led coalition has been responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people in Yemen. It has carried out over 19,000 airstrikes on Houthi-controlled regions. Its blockade is the major reason for millions in the country being on the verge of starvation.
Following the capture of Aden by the STC, violent fighting erupted between the two sides, threatening to plunge the already war-ravaged country into deeper chaos and conflict. An agreement was necessary between the two factions of the coalition before the Saudis could respond to an offer by the Houthis to enter ceasefire talks to potentially bring an end to the war and conflict in Yemen.
Several media reports this week stated that immediately after resolving the internal dispute in its military coalition, the Saudis entered ‘back channel negotiations’ with the Houthis for the first time in over two years.. The Houthis had made a peace offer to the coalition following an attack on Saudi oil installations which they took responsibility for. In their offer, the Houthis said that they will stop all missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in exchange for the Saudi coalition stopping airstrikes.The Houthis also released thousands of prisoners belonging to the Saudi coalition and the Yemeni security forces in an attempt to build trust between the two sides.