Saudi ambassador to Yemen announces that Yemen’s government and southern separatist forces have agreed on a ceasefire. Peace talks will begin in Saudia Arabia.
Both sides accepted to a ceasefire in Abyan province and the de-escalation of tensions in other regions, Mohammed al-Jaber wrote in a Twitter post on Monday.
According to the ambassador, the self-styled Southern Transitional Council (STC) and the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi also agreed to start talks on executing a Riyadh agreement including committees from both sides.
Tensions between the two previous allies in Yemen’s long-running war have developed since April when the STC unilaterally declared self-rule in areas under its control in Yemen.
The STC fighters were the on-the-ground allies of the UAE, once Saudi Arabia’s main alliance partner in its military campaign against the Houthi rebels, who control broad swaths of territory in Yemen’s north.
The conflict intensified on Saturday after forces loyal to the STC seized control of the strategically located island of Socotra.
The STC, which raises the flag of the former communist state in the south and has driven to again split the war-torn country in two, secured several state buildings, including the governor’s headquarters.
The internationally recognised government blamed the STC of staging “a full-fledged coup” in Socotra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The fighting threatens to cause unchangeable damage to the island, which has rare dragon blood trees, plant species, spices and marine life, many of which are seen or found nowhere else.
“There might be a new dynamic developing. It certainty looks like there are signs that Saudi Arabia is tiring of the war in Yemen,” said Elisabeth Kendall, a senior fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford University.
“[The war] hasn’t been working for five years. It’s very expensive and a virus is spreading so it could be that it is now recognising the STC as a genuine military as well as an administrative presence on the ground in the south and is, therefore, stepping over the head of the Hadi government in order to broker some kind of deal which allows it to step back a little.”
The STC turned on Hadi in August last year and took charge of Aden, the internationally-recognised government’s temporary seat. The fighting stopped when the two groups reached a deal in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, with the purpose of forming a unity government, however, clashes continued in the ensuing months.
Yemen’s south was an independent state until the 1990 alliance with the north.
The country’s newest conflict broke out in late 2014 when the Houthis seized much of the country and removed Hadi’s government from the capital, Sanaa.
The conflict escalated in March 2015 when the Saudi-UAE-led military alliance launched a fierce air campaign against the rebels in an effort to restore Hadi’s government.
Ever since then, the war has killed more than an estimated 100,000 people and displaced millions, pushing the poverty-stricken country to the verge of famine and gutting its infrastructure.
The country is facing many challenges along with famine. Not only is it hit with the coronavirus pandemic but also the cholera epidemic. The situation is worst to the point that it can be assumed the country would be wiped off of the map. Many people from around the world have stepped forward to donate and are openly speaking in favour of the country.