Spotlight: Fate of Saudi-brokered deal on peace in Yemen's south still hangs in balance

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-05 20:50:15|Editor: zh
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ADEN, Yemen, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- The fate of a power-sharing deal between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) still hangs in balance two months after its signing.

The Saudi Arabia-brokered deal, signed on Nov. 5, 2019 in the Saudi capital Riyadh, aims to end the internal conflict over Yemen's southern regions, particularly the port city of Aden.

Both warring sides, however, have continued to blame each other for undermining the deal, as they engaged in armed confrontations in different southern areas especially the provinces of Abyan and Shabwa during the past weeks.

"No significant progress was made in implementing the Riyadh deal and both sides continued to mobilize troops in preparation for upcoming fighting," said Ali Bin Hadi, a retired Yemeni military official.

"Two months passed after signing the deal in Riyadh but the picture right now remains completely unclear as tension is intensifying on the ground," he told Xinhua.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Jawas, a military strategist based in Aden, said Saudi Arabia is currently struggling to find the best ways to implement the power-sharing deal while satisfying both Yemeni parties.

"The implementation of the Riyadh deal needs high financial expenses particularly in the security and military arrangements and there are ongoing preparations in Saudi Arabia for that," said Jawas.

Things including "eradicating the rampant corruption within the Yemeni institutions" must be accomplished first before the implementation of the deal, he added.

Jawas urged Saudi Arabia to deal more strictly with the Yemeni warring factions involved in the deal and use "an iron fist to implement the deal" to prevent any resumption of conflict that may lead to fragmentation of the Yemeni regions.

Yaseen Tamimi, a Yemeni political writer and analyst, said the Saudi-brokered deal largely failed "because of the weak leadership of the country's legitimate authority that completely depends on the decisions of Saudi Arabia which has no intention of exerting necessary pressure on the STC to comply with the deal's provisions."

On Wednesday, representatives of the STC suspended their participation in a joint committee tasked with implementing the Saudi-brokered deal with the government.

An official of the Aden-based STC said on condition of anonymity that the suspension decision came in protest against the recent military escalation of the government forces in the southeastern province of Shabwa.

Last year, Saudi Arabia persuaded the STC and the Yemeni government to hold reconciliation talks, which succeeded in reaching a deal to form a new technocrat cabinet of no more than 24 ministers.

But numerous obstacles prevented the implementation of the deal such as forming a new government and achieving permanent stability in southern Yemen.

The deal also included the return of the exiled Yemeni government to Aden and the unification of all military units under the authority of the country's interior and defense ministries.

The Saudi-brokered deal excluded the Iranian-backed Houthis who are still controlling the capital Sanaa and other northern provinces of the war-torn Arab country.

The impoverished Arab country has been locked in a civil war since late 2014 when the Houthi rebels overran much of the country and seized all northern areas including Sanaa.