Yemen government, separatists sign deal to end power struggle in south

Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and southern separatists signed an agreement on Tuesday to end a power struggle in the south of Yemen that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince hailed as a step toward a wider political solution to end the multifaceted conflict.

The stand-off had opened a new front in the more than four-year-old war and fractured a Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthi movement that ousted the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from the capital, Sanaa, in the north in late 2014.

Saudi Arabia’s envoy to Yemen told reporters that the pact, reached after more than a month of indirect talks in the kingdom, would see the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) join a new cabinet along with other southerners and all armed forces would be placed under government control.

“This agreement will open, God willing, broader talks between Yemeni parties to reach a political solution and end the war,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a televised signing ceremony in Riyadh.

U.S. President Donald Trump praised the agreement on Twitter: “A very good start! Please all work hard to get a final deal.”

Riyadh has been trying to resolve the stand-off to refocus the coalition on fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi movement on its southern border.

“This agreement will open, God willing, broader talks between Yemeni parties to reach a political solution and end the war,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a televised signing ceremony in Riyadh.

U.S. President Donald Trump praised the agreement on Twitter: “A very good start! Please all work hard to get a final deal.”

Riyadh has been trying to resolve the stand-off to refocus the coalition on fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi movement on its southern border.

The Aden crisis exposed a rift between Saudi Arabia and its main Arab ally the UAE, which started reducing its presence in Yemen in June as Western allies, including some that provide the coalition with arms and intelligence, pressed for an end to a war that has killed tens of thousands.

April Longley of think-tank International Crisis Group said the agreement could be positive but it was too early to tell.

“In a best-case scenario, it will put the lid on violence and open the way to more inclusive Yemeni negotiations in which southern separatists, who are an important component on the ground, are also present,” she said.

source: Reuters

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