Yemen’s Vice President Highlights Southern Independence in Negotiations with Houthis
Yemen’s Vice President and leader of the Southern Transitional Council, Aidarous al-Zubaidi, has articulated his intent to prioritize the creation of an independent southern state during ongoing negotiations with the Houthi rebels. His declaration comes in the wake of recent talks in Riyadh between Saudi Arabia, the country leading a coalition against the Houthis, and the Houthi rebels themselves. Al-Zubaidi’s strong stance suggests that his group may not back a solution that does not include the establishment of a separate state.
Aligning with this objective, Al-Zubaidi also attended a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, where he underscored the cause of southern separatism. Although this issue has been overshadowed by broader discussions about ending the war in Yemen, it remains a key concern for his group. The transitional council, under Al-Zubaidi’s leadership, plans to join the Riyadh talks at a later stage.
The Road to Sovereignty: An arduous Journey
Al-Zubaidi’s aspiration involves reinstating a sovereign southern state, a goal set to be pursued through protracted negotiations with the Houthi rebels. This ambition is pivotal to his group’s strategy for talks with the Houthis. Yemen’s civil war was triggered in 2014 when Houthi rebels captured Sanaa, the capital, and a large portion of the country’s north. This incursion led to the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in 2015 to reinstate the internationally recognized government. The strife has since broadened into a larger regional proxy war involving Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Saudi Arabia’s Mediation Efforts and the Role of Gulf Powers
Al-Zubaidi welcomed the mediation efforts of Saudi Arabia and expressed appreciation for both Saudi Arabia and the UAE for their support throughout the conflict. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that these Gulf powers have occasionally found themselves on opposing sides due to prolonged infighting. He emphasized the need for a separate southern state within the pre-1990 borders, while also acknowledging that the final decision will be determined by the Yemeni people through a referendum. He affirmed that this aligns with international law and their right to return to their pre-1990 borders.
Yemen’s Civil War: A complex Tapestry of Conflicts
Yemen’s civil war is a multifaceted conflict, evolving from a localized dispute into a broader regional proxy war involving major powers, with the Houthi movement on one side and the internationally recognized Yemeni government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, on the other. This war has seen the rise of various local factions, each with their own agendas and alliances, further complicating the situation.
The Southern Transitional Council, led by Al-Zubaidi, is a significant player in this intricate web and has been pushing for the creation of an independent southern state. This aspiration, however, has been overshadowed by the broader war and the urgent need to bring about a cessation of hostilities. Nevertheless, as the conflict continues to evolve, the issue of southern separatism and the prospect of an independent southern state are likely to become increasingly prominent in discourse and negotiations.
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