Yemen to get new government in one month

Clay Curtis
November 7, 2019

"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands with you", the Saudi crown prince said at a signing ceremony in Riyadh aired on state television.

Riyadh has sought to refocus the Saudi-Emirati-led coalition on fighting the Houthis on its border, after the rebels repeatedly launched missiles and drone attacks on Saudi cities in recent years.

To pave the way for the deal, Emirati forces last month left Aden for home, handing control of the port city and other southern areas to Saudi Arabia.

A power struggle for southern Yemen, dubbed a "civil war within a civil war", appears to have subsided for now, following a Saudi-brokered deal to prevent the country disintegrating.

In August, the STC-dominated Security Belt Forces took control of Aden, which had served as the beleaguered government's base since it was ousted from the capital Sanaa by Huthi rebels in 2014.

It also exposed a rift between normal Gulf allies, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The deal was hailed as Yemen's best chance so far to end the four-year conflict, but it appears to be hanging by a thread with breaches reported by both sides.

The Southern Transitional Council is part of the coalition but has been pushing for self-rule.

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The offer came after the Houthis claimed responsibility for attacks on September 14 against two key Saudi oil installations that temporarily knocked out half of the OPEC giant's production.

Meanwhile, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) welcomed the signing of the Riyadh Agreement between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) on Tuesday in the Saudi capital, in the presence of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

It represents an important step toward preserving Yemen's unity and territorial integrity, a necessary prerequisite for the resumption of negotiations to end the crisis and including all elements of Yemeni society. But observers will be anxious to see if the alliance, assuming it holds, simply leads to a reinvigorated militarily assault on Houthi positions, or instead leads to substantive talks on Yemen's future.

All military and security forces would be incorporated into the defense and interior ministries.

Riyadh and Washington, however, blamed Iran for the attacks - a charge denied by Tehran.

The conflict has since killed tens of thousands of people - a lot of them civilians - and driven millions more to the brink of starvation in what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

"Saudi Arabia still believes that there is significant risk from the Houthi rebels, but it has not managed to get consistent global support for its intervention in Yemen", Fatima Abo Alasrar, a scholar at the Middle East Institute, told AFP.

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