South Yemen Separatists Declare Self Rule

Saudi-backed govt rejects ‘coup’ against their rule

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An issue that was always going to come to a head at some point has arisen again in Yemen this weekend, with the Southern Transitional Council (STC), announcing full self-rule of the territory of South Yemen, and an effort to move to reassert the nation as it existed before 1990.

South Yemen existed from 1967 to 1990, mostly as a Soviet-aligned state. A civil war beginning in 1986 ended with South Yemen being annexed by the north. Southern separatists have remained active since, and with the backing of the United Arab Emirates have become a contesting power to the Saudi-backed “government” that occupies parts of the south. The Saudi-backed government rejected the claim of self-rule, labeling it a “coup.”

The two sides aren’t just suddenly at odds. Throughout 2019 they were fighting one another, with the STC winning much of the fighting, and a power-sharing deal meant to end that ultimately collapsing when the Saudi-backed government said it was “unfair” to have to share power with the separatists. From that point it was only a matter of time before they’d be back to fighting.

Such a move could substantially change the state on the ground for the Yemen War, as the STC hasn’t got major territorial claims against the Houthis, whose territory is overwhelmingly northern Yemen, and the Saudi-backed Hadi government probably isn’t going to be able to fight two civil wars at once.