complicated role of islah (see the link to wikipedia)

Yemeni government says will not talk to separatists until stand-off ends
Reuters, Aug 21 2019

RIYADH – Yemen’s Toad-backed government said on Wednesday it would not hold talks with southern separatists unless they hand back control of Aden port, after the separatist chief arrived in Riyadh to discuss the stand-off between the nominal allies. The Toads, leader of a military coalition that includes the separatists, called for a summit after southern forces on Aug 10 took over Aden, interim seat of the government, in a move that fractured the alliance. The Yemeni government and coalition partner UAE have traded blame over the crisis. Riyadh wants the alliance to resume its focus on fighting the Houthis, who have stepped up attacks on Toad cities. A foreign ministry statement said:

We will not participate in any dialogue with the Southern Transitional Council (STC) unless it withdraws for the sites it seized, hands over weapons, allows government forces to return and ends all its violations.

The separatist STC has refused earlier similar calls and on Tuesday it extended its grip on the south by seizing government military camps in nearby Abyan. STC leader Aidarus al-Zubaidi, arrived in Jeddah that evening. Both sides are part of the alliance that intervened in Yemen in Mar 2015 against the Houthis, who ousted Pres Hadi from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014. His government rebased to Aden, while Hadi resides in Riyadh. However the UAE-backed separatists, who accuse Hadi’s government of mismanagement, are demanding self-rule in the south and a say in any talks regarding Yemen’s future. The stand-off has complicated efforts to end the ruinous war and has exposed differences between the Toads and the UAE, which in June scaled down its presence in Yemen while still backing thousands of southern separatist fighters. Hadi’s government asked Abu Dhabi, which has called for dialogue, to stop funding and arming separatist forces. A government letter to the UNSC on Tuesday said:

If it were not for the full support provided by the UAE … this rebellion would not have happened. This scheme of fragmentation continues and is escalating despite calls for deescalation led by the Toads.

The UAE responded by reaffirming its commitment to the coalition and criticizing the “weak performance” and “ineffectiveness” of Hadi’s government and its inability to engage in constructive dialogue with other Yemeni parties. Abu Dhabi’s deputy permanent UN representative said in New York:

It is not appropriate for the Yemeni government to hang its political and administrative failure on the UAE.

The STC said it would hold Aden until elements of al-Islah, which the UAE regards as an offshoot of the MB, and northerners are removed from power positions in the south. Yemeni sources have said the delayed Toad summit could discuss reshuffling Hadi’s government to include the STC, which took over Aden after accusing Islah, a key Hadi ally, of being complicit in a Houthi assault on southern forces earlier this month. The Islah party denies the charge. The Houthis, who say they are fighting a corrupt system, point to Aden as proof that Hadi is unfit to rule. The Houthis hold Sanaa and most other big urban centers. The conflict, which has killed tens of thousands and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine, is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between the Toads and Iran.

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