Yemen’s southern governorates are currently witnessing political and security unrest after Aden’s sacked governor, Aidarous al-Zubaidi, announced the formation of a transitional council for that region.
This development was viewed by many analysts as a new step towards the process of separating south Yemen from its north.
Such a move is not new in southern Yemen.
The Southern Movement, also known as al-Hirak al-Janoubi, calls for the separation of southern Yemen. The movement has not stopped its activities seeking to reach this goal since its establishment in 2007, during the term of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Recent calls for separation have attracted the attention of several southern leaders living outside Yemen, including former president of South Yemen Ali Salim al-Beidh, who signed a unity pact with Saleh to merge the north and south in 1990.
Al-Beidh views the formation of the so-called transitional governing council in southern Yemen a ‘great step’ towards the liberation of southern Yemen.
The formation of the transitional council came as a response to Hadi’s decision to sack two officials close to the UAE – Zubaidi and state minister Hani bin Braik. The latter leads a security group consisting of thousands of fighters.
The UAE has been controlling Aden airport and sea port, considered to be one of the world’s most significant ports, since the liberation of Aden from the Houthi-Saleh forces in mid 2015.
The newly formed southern transitional council consists of 26 members. It aims at managing southern Yemen inside Yemen and representing it abroad, according to the declaration announced by Zubaidi.
The southern Yemeni separatist council has triggered debate among Yemeni and Arabian Gulf circles. It has neither been supported locally nor by the GCC states, especially since it came as Yemen was witnessing an ongoing war between the Saudi-led Arab coalition, which backs the government of President Hadi, and the Iran-backed rebels consisting of Houthis and forces of former president Saleh.
The GCC, in a statement issued following the transitional council formation, stressed its supports for Hadi’s government and the unity of Yemen and opposed separation. The crisis, however, has not yet ended.
The separation of southern Yemen would weaken the authority of the legitimate government in Yemen. It would also lead to the failure of the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s operations and ultimately, the victory of Iran’s allies, represented by the Houthis and forces loyal to Saleh.
It is crucial for the Saudi-led Arab coalition to continue with accomplishing its goals of liberating the Yemeni state from rebels, waging “war on terror” and securing Saudi Arabia’s borders, especially as the Saudi army is engaged in a brutal war against the Houthi-Saleh forces near the country’s southern border.
Since the US expressed interest in partnering with Saudi Arabia in its war on terror, and as the upcoming summit, to be attended by US President Donald Trump and Arab and Islamic leaders, calls for a “new partnership to face extremism and terrorism”, it has become even more crucial to maintain the stability of Yemen.
It also important to encourage the Yemeni government to impose its sovereignty and build military and security bodies in order to deter the armed groups’ spread across southeast Yemen, particularly the al-Qaeda group in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP], led by Yemeni Qassim al-Raymi following the death of its former leader Nasser al-Wuhayshi in a US air strike, as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.
Since Houthis and their ally – former president Saleh – carried out a coup on September 21, 2014, these armed groups have launched a series of attacks in a number of Yemeni cities targeting Houthis, their allies, the Saudi-led Arab coalition and the Yemeni government army.
Raymi recently threatened Yemen President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in a press release published by the al-Qaeda-run al-Malahem Media.
He accused Hadi of being a collaborator who gives the Americans everything they want. Raymi added that the US was exploiting Hadi after it was embarrassed by the airdrop operation its forces conducted in Bayda province in late January.
At least 10 civilians and a US soldier were killed in the opration, several soldiers injured and one of the planes crashed.
Raymi’s threat clearly indicates that armed groups and organisations like AQAP and ISIL are waiting for the right moment to seize control of the Yemeni provinces where the presence of the Yemeni state is lacking.
The Yemeni state has expressed readiness to collaborate with the US in its “war on terror”.
– Al Jazeera