Friends of South Yemen

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The Yemeni Government has no powerbase!

From our Special Correspondent Abdul Razak

Until the Southern Transitional Council (STC) rescinded its self rule declaration on July 29th, the negotiations about power sharing between the STC and the Yemeni government in Riyadh reached a stalemate for two main reasons.

The first reason was that the leader of the STC, Aidaroose Al-Zubaidi, was granted a popular mandate on 4th May 2017 to achieve one vital goal, namely an independent sovereign South with Aden as its capital. Al-Zubaidi promised Southerners that he would continue his struggle by all means, politically and militarily, to accomplish this goal. “I will not let you down or let our martyrs down,” he said. He also swore to deter a repeat of the Yemeni military/tribal occupation of the South following the war in the summer of 1994 between the South and North of Yemen. Any concession by the STC to the Yemeni government would be considered a betrayal of the Southerners’ cause.

The second reason is that the Yemeni Government is fighting to impose unity by force with the North of Yemen but it does not control the North. In fact, the North of Yemen has been under full control of the rebel Houthis since 2014. The Yemeni government only controls the capital city of Ma’rib governorate in the North, which is a very small geographical area.

The Yemeni president, vice-president and government cabinet ministers are in exile in Saudi Arabia. Their military forces, which are mainly under commanders loyal to the Islamic party, Islah, are stationed in part of Ma’rib governorate in the North. The government has some military forces scattered in Hadramout, Shabwa and Abyan but they are not welcome by the people of these regions. In fact, they are besieged by the citizens of these governorates and by forces loyal to the STC. Clashes take place with the locals almost daily. Therefore, the Yemeni government has no powerbase in the South or North, apart from marginal support in Ma&squo;rib governorate in the North of Yemen.

The STC negotiates from real power gained on the ground and a genuine mandate from Southerners but if it deviates from the main goal of achieving an independent sovereign south with Aden as its capital, the people in the south will certainly revolt against it. “Not after 26 years of sacrifices and hardship” Al-Zubaidi said. The least the STC could accept as a solution is self-rule, where every citizen could live in peace and harmony under the rule of law and order. I think this is a solution that might resolve the stalemate, satisfy most Southerners and many Northerners and provide a way out of the prolonged war and horrendous suffering to which the Yemeni people have been subjected for the past five years.

Abdul Razak - August 2020