The ongoing Saudi-led operation in Yemen is intended to defeat the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who control much of the north including the capital Sanaa. The Saudis are supported in the battle against the Houthis by the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Deal to end war within a war breaks down
However a secondary war within the war appears likely to break out again as a power-sharing agreement between the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) supported by the UAE and the Saudis supporting supporting the government of Mansur Hadi appears to have broken down.
A recent article reports: “A power-sharing agreement between the Yemeni government and southern separatists is effectively defunct more than two months after it was signed, increasing fears of renewed hostilities.The deal to resolve a tussle for control in the south, dubbed a “civil war within a civil war”, was hailed as a stepping stone towards ending the wider conflict in Yemen when it was struck in Riyadh last November.”
The deal and the failure to implement it
The peace agreement set a timetable for the Hadi government to return to Aden, to appoint a new head of security and a governor of Aden the temporary capital of the Hadi government. As well, a new 24-member cabinet was to be formed with equal members for southerners. While the Hadi government prime minister returned to Aden both sides have failed to meet other deadlines which allowed a month from signing for the provisions to be carried out.
The Hadi government is not in favor of sharing power with the separatists. The Hadi government wants a unified Yemen while the STC wants a separate independent South Yemen as had existed some time ago. Another part of the agreement would have placed forces from both sides under the authorities of the government defense and interior ministries by January 5 but that has not happened either.
An analyst indicates some of the problems with the agreement: “The agreement had an extremely ambitious timetable,” said Farea al-Muslimi, an associate fellow at London’s Chatham House think tank.As both sides look for an exit, they are trading accusations over who is responsible for the failure to enact the accord.”The agreement has the same problem as any other Yemeni agreement… everyone wants to sign and no one wants to implement,” Muslimi said.”
While there are efforts to keep talks going and avoid renewed fighting in the war within the war again, the failure of the agreement probably will lead to the STC supported by the UAE to attempt to regain power in Aden and adjacent areas as the situation was before the agreement.
The UAE and Saudis may favor a settlement with the STC and even the Houthis
The Saudis no doubt wish to settle the disagreement with the STC and the UAE and demand that the Hadi government either agree to share power with the STC or lose Saudi support. The Saudis and the UAE could even decide to settle issues with the Houthis. The Houthis might be willing to agree to a peace deal that left them in control of the north with the STC and the Hadi government in control of the south. Such a deal would free the UAE and Saudis from the expense of a war they appear unable to win and has been criticized by much of the international community. If the Hadi government does not agree to share power with the STC they may find themselves ending up in control of nothing after losing the support of the Saudis.