According to medical sources reported to Reuters news agency, at least ten people have died and 100 injured in heavy clashes between South Yemen separatists and Saudi-backed mercenaries of the Hadi regime in the city of Aden.
Conflict broke out on Sunday, when a deadline imposed by the seperatist high command called the Southern Transitional Council (STC) that demanded full withdrawal of Hadi forces from Aden, expired. Following the failure of the Hadi regime to comply, armed ecessionist troops were deployed across Aden and engaged in violent clashes with the Saudi mercenaries in the city.
Fighting lasted for most of the day, ending in a temporary truce that saw Hadi forces widthraw to their military base. For the time being, separatist forces seem to be winning, as they have captured key military base in the Khor Maksar district of Aden, as well as several government buildings, according to local newspaper Aden al-Ghad.
The Southern Transitional Council is led by Aidarus al-Zoubaidi, a militia leader who came to the forefront of Yemeni politics when he declared war on Ansarullah after the Saudi coalition attacked in March 2015, and drove the revolutionary forces out of Aden. He was awarded governorship of Aden province as a reward by Hadi, but was eventually sacked in April 2017, possibly because of his close relationship to the Southern secessionist movement and the United Arab Emirates, which has been backing separatist activity.
Shortly after being removed from his post, Zoubaidi formed the Southern Transitional Council, and started working on what is in fact a parallel government structure, effectively cutting authority in Aden and its surroundings in two. Earlier this week, the STC made its next move, demanding Hadi’s regime to completely vacate the area, a demand the Saudi-backed leader did not obey.
From 1967 to 1990, South Yemen was an independent country, a situation that the STC and the South Yemen Movement (SYM) it leads, seeks to recreate. Since joining forces with the Saudi-led invasion force that attacked Yemen in 2015, the SYM has received significant backing from the United Arab Emirates, to such an extent that they effectively sold the island of Socotra to the Emiratis in return.
Ahmed bin Daghr, the so-called “prime minister” of the Hadi regime, wrote in an official statement that “This is a serious matter and the coalition and Arabs as a whole must move to save the situation (…) The matter is in their hands and the hope, as we in the government see it, is on the [United Arab] Emirates.”
The STC, on the other hand, blamed Hadi and bin Daghr for escalating violence by firing on peaceful secessionist protests, stating that it “holds the bin Daghr government fully responsible after it violated the Arab coalition’s call for calm and used weapons to prevent demonstrators from reaching the parade square.”