Yemen: UAE-Allied Separatists Seize Last Government Stronghold Aden

The Associated Press
AP/Screengrab

Clashes have broken out in southern Yemen between two groups respectively backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, countries within the coalition fighting against the Iranian-supported Shiite Houthi rebels.

Reuters learned from southern Yemeni residents that UAE-backed fighting groups “loyal to the Southern Transitional Council (STC) formed last year to push for the revival of the former independent state of South Yemen.”

These groups, the report claims, “seized the last stronghold of [the Saudi-allied internationally-recognized President Abd-Rabbu Mansour] Hadi’s Presidential Protection Forces in the Dar Saad area of northern Aden, in battles that at times involved heavy artillery and tank fire.”

Citing photos posted on social media by activists, Reuters notes that the flag of the UAE-backed groups flew over southern Yemen, which united with the part of the northern part of the country in 1990.

Al Jazeera described the separatist group efforts as a “coup.”

“Yemen’s Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher accused southern separatists of attempting a coup after fighting erupted. The two sides in Aden are supported by countries within the Saudi-led coalition that are fighting the Houthi rebels,” reports Al Jazeera.

In March 2015, the UAE joined a Saudi-led coalition against Iran-backed Shiite Houthis who seized much of Yemen, pushing the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of the capital of Sanaa in 2014.

The Saudi-led alliance has been trying to restore Hadi to power since, establishing the government’s headquarters in the southern port city of Aden while they try to retake Sanaa back.

Although the internationally-recognized government established itself in Aden, President Hadi lives in exile in Saudi Arabia.

Now, it appears the UAE is fighting against at least some components of the Saudi coalition, though news reports claim the United Arab Emirates is still part of the alliance.

Reuters reports:

Southern Yemeni separatists took control of the port city of Aden after two days of fighting, residents said on Tuesday, confining the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to the presidential palace.

Fighting between southern separatists, backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), against forces loyal to Saudi-based president Hadi, risk crippling their once united campaign against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen’s north.

According to the state-run Saba news agency, the fighting killed 16 and wounded 141.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) placed the casualty count to at least 36 killed and 185 injured.

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