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Who is behind Aden’s militants?

With early signs of the defeat of the Houthi militias in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, looming, battles broke out in the interim capital Aden.

Contriving battles in the south is not a coincidence, but rather shows the motives of those who were betting on the perpetuity of the war in the north and the failure of the legitimacy project, which they think would help them succeed in establishing their own state in southern Yemen.

The defeats of the militias in the north, the Houthi group, have markedly increased since the defection of their ex-partner the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and later worsened after they killed him when most of Saleh’s followers turning against them.

On the other hand, hostile regional parties, such as Qatar, have sought to inflame the situation by increasingly inciting southern separatist militias against the government. These militias were active before, but they are now acting in tandem with the Houthis, and by besieging the government headquarters in Aden, they opening a new front in order to compensate their new tactical allies for their loss of Saleh’s camp.
Thus, the government forces which for a while thought they would soon retake Sanaa, have found themselves fighting to keep Aden.

This is a bad political and military development which confirms the old fears that some secessionist southern forces may have been infiltrated by the same players who desire to prolong the war in Yemen, specifically, Iran and Qatar.

This, indeed, contradicts the interpretations promoted by Qatar, claiming disagreements within the coalition that is supporting legitimacy, and - as usual - pointing accusing fingers at the United Arab Emirates in the hope that it can dismantle the ‘Arab Quartet’.

This analysis does not negate a desire for secession and the existence of organization that supports it in Yemen; however, it also shows what links the events in which more than 20 people have been killed in unjustified confrontations.

The advocates of secession have justified the use of military force, by citing grievances in a country torn by a vicious war. There is no doubt that the armed attack on the government headquarters in Aden goes beyond the limits of a political dispute, and this armed group which is currently raises slogans tempting to some southern Yemenis, share with the Houthis the crime of sedition.


What about their desire for a ‘separate Yemen’ in the shape of an independent state?

Well, this is an issue for Yemeni people as a whole to decide. If they agree in the future on secession, then it is their choice; and if they do not, the secessionist group may take its demands to specialized international organizations arguing that “one day Yemen was, indeed, two independent states”, and that it was time for secession after the failure of union.

The UN, then, through the International Tribunal or other bodies, may either support this request and thus dispute would end in a civilized, legal and secure manner; or if it rejects it, the controversy would come to an end.

Hostile regional parties, such as Qatar, have sought to inflame the situation in Yemen by increasingly inciting southern separatist militias against the government.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed


Iraqi Kurds tried their luck in recent past, and they had the motives plus a long history to support their argument for secession, but countries are not run by the desires of politicians and separatist agitators, but according to laws governing the relations between peoples.

In the south, there is a large movement which blames the Yemeni unity for its impoverishment, repression and injustice. Yet, there is no doubt that the rule of the late President Saleh destroyed the whole of Yemen, and was responsible for the failure of the state as a whole.

The current war is being waged to eliminate pockets of rebellion that is trying to seize power illegally, and also to restore the state’s entity in accordance with the UN project for a democratic Yemen, with the support of the GCC Initiative.

This project has proposed an interim transitional government, followed by a constitution agreed upon under UN supervision, parliamentary and presidential elections, and then forming a government.

The Yemenis are the ones who would decide and choose their leaders under international supervision, not Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran or Qatar. But the Iranians, through the Houthis, are fighting to retain what had been seized during the coup, and block the international project.

Secessionists in the south, in the meantime, can wait and present their demands in a legal and civilized way, instead of destroying their own country, and fall prey to countries hell-bent on creating chaos, probably, through targeting countries of the Coalition without regard to Yemeni blood, security and stability.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, where this article is also published.
Twitter: @aalrashed