The STC-government talks move to Riyadh with agreement anticipated soon

Talks have been seeking to bring the allies together after summer clashes in Aden

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of Yemen's southern separatists rally to show support to the United Arab Emirates amid a standoff with the Saudi-backed government, in the port city of Aden, Yemen September 5, 2019. REUTERS/Fawaz Salman/File Photo

Talks between the Southern Transitional Council and the Yemeni government have entered their final stages with delegates arriving in Riyadh on Wednesday to hammer out the last details, an official from the Aden based group told The National.

Nazar Haiytham, the spokesperson of the STC, declined to go into detail of the remaining sticking points in the indirect talks with the government. But, another official close to the delegation said that an agreement could be ready to sing as early as Thursday and the talks had moved from Jeddah to Riyadh in anticipation of this.

“The Saudi sponsored dialogue between the STC and the Yemeni government has come to the end and the two parties are supposed to sign an agreement Thursday to end the power conflict and re-shape the relation between them to combat the Houthi rebels,” the official said.

“The Southern Transitional Council has reached a deal with the Yemeni government to re-unite efforts in the battle to combat the Houthi rebellion, the agreement reached between the two parties will enable the STC to take part in governing the liberated provinces in South Yemen and participate in a new cabinet supposed to be formed after signing the agreement”

Riyadh has been mediating talks between the two sides in Jeddah for the last month in a bid to resolve a simmering conflict between the former allies over the status of the south and role of the STC in international talks.

In August, the STC took control of much of Aden – the site of the Yemeni government since they were pushed from the capital by the Houthis in 2015. The southern forces accused elements in the government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi of being Muslim Brotherhood members who were undermining security, weeks after a senior STC commander was killed in an Aden terror attack.

They also demanded to be included in international peace talks. However, the government insisted no negotiations could take place until the STC withdrew fighters.

In September, the UAE and Saudi Arabia called for the government and the STC to attend reconciliation talks to de-escalate the tensions and refocus attention on the fight against Houthi rebels.

The political developments come as the Southern Joint forces destroyed three Houthi military vehicles and killed more than 25 rebel fighters on the Al Dhalea front.

Clashes broke out in the villages of Markhaza and Subaira in the strategic area of Al Fakher on Tuesday and continued until the early hours of Wednesday.

"Our forces repelled a large-scale Houthi attack aiming to retake control over the strategic area of Al Fakher which was liberated along with large swathes in Hajer front and Bab Ghalak in the military operation which was launched by our forces in October 8," Cpt Majed Al Shouaibi, the spokesperson of the Southern Joint Forces in Al Dhalea province, told The National.

“The Houthi militia has pushed many reinforcements [up] to try to retake control of the key sites it lost last week. But our forces inflicted a fatal blow to the Houthi fighters who attempted to sneak into the liberated sites in Al Gob military base and Markhaza village and Subaira in northern Al Fakher. Many Houthi fighters were killed during the clashes and dozens surrendered. Two vehicles carrying fighters were destroyed along with another vehicle carrying ZSU-23 Shilka gun,” Cpt Al Shouaibi said.