Yemeni government and STC close to reaching 'historic deal' on Aden

Saudi Arabia is leading talks to unite Yemeni allies in confronting Houthi rebels

FILE PHOTO: A Yemeni government soldier holds a weapon as he stands by an emblem of the STC at the headquarters of the separatist Southern Transitional Council in Ataq, Yemen August 27, 2019. REUTERS/Ali Owidha/File Photo
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Yemen’s government and the Southern Transitional Council are close to reaching an agreement that would end a power struggle in the southern port city of Aden.

Talks between the government and the STC started last month in Jeddah as Saudi Arabia pushed to end recent fighting in Yemen’s southern provinces.

“An agreement has been discussed during the talks in Jeddah, but divisions have emerged within the governmental delegation that is hindering the final stages of the agreement,” the STC spokesman, Nazar Haitham, told The National.

The government of Yemen and the STC are allies in the four-year war against the Iran-backed Houthis.

But they recently clashed, waging fierce battles against one another in southern Yemen, including in the port city of Aden.

The Arab Coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and including the UAE, intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the Yemeni government in 2014.

The UAE announced this week its full support of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to unite the two sides in combating the Houthi rebels.

“We fully support Saudi Arabia's significant efforts in carrying out negotiations in Jeddah to confront the Houthi coup,” Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said on Twitter.

Dr Gargash stressed that a united front is needed in Yemen to combat the Houthi rebels.

It is vital that both sides show flexibility during the negotiations, Dr Gargash said.

Easing the tensions in the south would support United Nations' efforts to pave the way for political talks towards salvaging a deal aimed at ending the war.

The deal, reached in Stockholm last December, includes a ceasefire and a troop withdrawal from the key Red Sea ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa.

Yemeni government officials accuse the rebels of breaching international laws by not committing to the Hodeidah agreement.