YEMEN: Saudi-Emirati Rift Deepens Amid Skirmishes Between Former Allies

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Aden, Yemen – The Saudi-led coalition that has invaded Yemen attacked a position of militia backed by coalition partner, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Aden, describing the site as “a threat”.

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“The coalition attacked one of the areas that pose a direct threat to an important government site,” Saudi state TV quoted a coalition statement as saying on Sunday, referring to the site where the former regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was occupying.

“This is only the first operation and will be followed by others… the Southern Transitional Council (STC) still has a chance to withdraw,” it added.

The attacks on the militia are the first major instance of infighting since the United Arab Emirates announced a plan to withdraw from Yemen in July. Already, the militia had been fighting Hadi loyalists in Aden for four days, but the coalition had not intervened, until now.

On Saturday, separatists in Southern Yemen, backed by the United Arab Emirates, took control of all military camps belonging to Saudi-backed militants loyal to Hadi in the restive port city of Aden. According to a Hadi government official, separatists have captured the last stronghold of the Saudi-allied forces in Aden as fighting raged between nominal allies who have turned on each other.

The separatists also took over the all-but empty presidential palace in Aden, a separatist military official added. After the takeover of the sites in Aden by the Emirati-backed forces, Hadi’s regime announced it held the UAE and militants backed by it responsible for “the coup” in the city.

On Saturday, the Saudi-led coalition ordered an immediate ceasefire, threatening to use military force against those who violated it. In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Spokesman Turki al-Malki had urged all UAE-backed separatists to retreat.

The Emirati minister of foreign affairs, whose country has been part of a Saudi-led coalition pounding Yemen, called for an end to the escalation in Aden. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Saturday expressed deep concern over the continuation of armed confrontations in Aden, urging calm, de-escalation and maintaining the security and safety of Yemeni citizens. He stressed the need for a responsible and serious dialogue to end the differences.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced concerns about the violent clashes, calling on rival parties to cease hostilities and “engage in an inclusive dialogue to resolve their differences and address the legitimate concerns of all Yemenis”.

Last month, the UAE announced a surprise plan to withdraw part of its troops from Yemen, largely because Abu Dhabi believes the war appears to have become “unwinnable”, according to US reports.

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