The Southern Transitional Council (STC), an erstwhile member of the Saudi-led coalition that is waging a war on Yemen, has declared self-rule along with a state of emergency in parts of the region currently under its control. This includes the strategically important port city of Aden. In a statement, the STC announced that it was declaring “self-governance in the south starting midnight on Saturday, April 25th, 2020,” and that “a self governing committee will start its work according to a list of tasks assigned by the council’s presidency.” The state of emergency also came into effect from midnight on Saturday.
The STC is backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is part of the coalition that intervened in Yemen in March 2015. The Saudi-led force began its assault following the overthrow of the government of president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi by the Ansar Allah or the Houthis. The STC was initially Hadi’s ally but ties broke down between the two sides last year. This was followed by the STC seizing control of Aden after violent fighting between the two groups. In November 2019, a power-sharing peace deal was brokered by Saudi Arabia.
The deal made way for the equal representation of the STC in a new national coalition government. It also called for the reorganization and assimilation of STC fighters into the government’s armed forces.
On Sunday, the STC accused the Hadi government of neglecting the southern regions which are facing acute food shortage, lack of public services and a sharp depreciation of currency. Citizens of Aden took to the streets in protest last Friday and Saturday, burning old tires and blocking several roads in the city. Protesters also tried to set fire to several government buildings.
Before the reunification of Yemen in 1990, southern Yemen was a separate independent socialist state called the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. Forming a separate country comprising these territories remains the primary goal of the STC.
The war has killed more than 100,000 Yemenis, a majority of them civilians, since 2014, when the Houthis took control of capital Sanaa, along with most of northern Yemen. Millions more have been injured, displaced and brought to the brink of starvation in the conflict.
The Saudi-led military coalition’s intervention has complicated and prolonged the conflict, causing significantly more deaths, misery and destruction because of its indiscriminate use of deadly air and drone strikes, missile attacks and ground invasions without much regard for civilian lives.