The Yemeni government Thursday held the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and southern separatists responsible for staging a "coup" on legitimacy in the interim capital Aden, in a move that exposed rifts in the Saudi-led alliance. In a statement, the Yemeni Foreign Ministry called on the UAE to immediately stop supporting the "rebel groups," in reference to the Security Belt forces loyal to the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC).
The UAE-backed southern separatists seized control of government military bases last weekend, fracturing the alliance battling the Iran-aligned Houthi group and complicating U.N. peace efforts to end the war. The UAE is a major partner in a Saudi-led military campaign that is supporting Yemen's internationally recognized government against Iran-allied Houthi rebels, who are in control of the capital Sanaa. But ties between the Yemeni government and the UAE have soured recently, as the UAE has been accused of supporting separatists in Yemen.
The ministry asserted that the Saudi-led coalition, of which the UAE is a member, intervened in Yemen after President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi requested the help of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to protect legitimacy. The request was based on international law and the U.N. Charter, to protect Yemen from the Iran-backed Houthi rebel group, said the ministry. Following four days of fierce battles with the legitimate government forces, Security Belt forces now control most state institutions, including Maasheeq presidential palace in the temporary capital of Aden.
Meanwhile, the STC held a mass rally in Aden yesterday to demonstrate its popular support following its recent military gains that came with the ultimate aim of overthrowing President Hadi, who currently resides in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Many traveled into Aden from other southern provinces on Wednesday, sleeping overnight in the central parade square. One man held up a battered old identity document from former South Yemen and many waved the South Yemen flag. "We call on the international community and the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to respect the southern people as a key partner in stemming the Persian tide in the region and fighting terrorism to achieve regional and global stability," said a statement released to mark the rally.
The separatists are a major component of the Western-backed alliance that intervened in Yemen against the Houthis in March 2015, but have a rival agenda to Hadi's government. The war has revived old strains between North Yemen and South Yemen, formerly separate countries that united into a single state in 1990.