Southern separatists seized two Yemeni government military bases near the southern port of Aden early on Tuesday, triggering fresh clashes between nominal allies that have complicated U.N. peace efforts, residents and officials said. The separatists and government are both part of a Saudi-led military coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which took over the capital Sanaa and most major cities in 2014. But the separatists broke with the government this month, seizing its temporary base of Aden on Aug. 10. On Tuesday, they took two government military bases in Zinjibar, around 60 km (40 miles) east of Aden in Abyan province, residents said. “What is happening in Abyan is an unjustified escalation by the Southern Transitional Council (STC – the separatists),” the Yemeni government foreign ministry said. On another front in the north, the Saudi-led coalition said it launched air strikes overnight on Houthi military targets in Sanaa. The coalition said on Tuesday that its air strikes on Sanaa struck caves storing missiles, drones and weapons. The assault appeared to be in response to Houthi attacks on energy assets in neighbouring Saudi Arabia on Saturday. The violence and cracks in the coalition could hamper United Nations efforts to push forward peace agreements and talks to end a war that has killed tens of thousands and driven the poorest Arabian Peninsula country to the brink of famine. The Western-backed, Sunni Muslim coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 against the Houthi movement that ousted the internationally recognised government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour
Southern Yemeni separatists withdrew on Saturday from some government buildings in Aden that they seized last week but held on to military camps that give them control over the southern port, interim seat of Yemen’s Saudi-backed government. The separatists’ takeover of Aden has strained a Saudi-led military coalition formed to confront the Iran-aligned Houthis as the movement stepped up attacks on the kingdom, hitting a Saudi oil installation on Saturday. A Houthi military spokesman said the group launched 10 drones on oil installations at Shaybah in eastern Saudi Arabia, describing it as the “biggest attack in the depths” of the kingdom and vowing further operations. State oil company Aramco said the attack caused a “limited fire” at a gas plant which had been contained and did not impact production. Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih condemned the strike as “cowardly” sabotage directed at global oil supplies. The Yemen conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and regional rival Shi’ite Muslim Iran. The Western-backed, Sunni Muslim coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after the Houthis ousted him from power in the capital Sanna in late 2014. The tensions have complicated United Nations efforts to implement a stalled peace deal in the main port city of Hodeidah, on Yemen’s west coast, and pave the way for political talks to end the war that has pushed the country to the brink of famine. Coalition warplanes
Attacks on Yemeni forces that form a core component of the Saudi-led military coalition in the south of the country risk further destabilising Aden, seat of the government, and complicating United Nations peace efforts. The Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which the alliance has been battling for more than four years, launched a missile attack on United Arab Emirates-backed Security Belt forces in the southern port city, a coalition stronghold, that killed 36 soldiers on Thursday. The strike on a military parade was the worst violence to hit Aden since southern separatists forces, including Security Belt units, clashed with the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in 2017 in a power struggle. Analysts say the Houthis may be testing any weaknesses in the coalition following the UAE military drawdown in the south and western coast announced in June, which appears to have also emboldened Islamist militant groups in Yemen who carried out separate deadly attacks on southern forces last week. WHY IS ADEN SIGNIFICANT?The Houthis have stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi cities, but this is the first serious attack by the group on Aden since it was captured by the coalition in 2015. The Western-backed, Sunni Muslim alliance intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis after they ousted Hadi’s government from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014. The Houthis, who hold most urban centres including Sanaa and the main port of Hodeidah, have no traction in the south, where the UAE has armed and trained some
An estimated 10,000 people have been killed so far and the conflict has devastated Yemen and pushed it to the brink of famine. The war has also left around two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27 million relying on aid, and over 8 million at risk of starvation. “The economic collapse is Yemen’s silent killer; many Yemenis are struggling just to survive,” said Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s director for Yemen.