As signs of the Houthi rebels’ defeat in the Yemeni capital Sanaa emerged, battle erupted in the temporary capital Sanaa.
Igniting battles in the South is no coincidence as it reflects the worries of those who are gambling on the war to persist in the North. They believe that the legitimate forces will not win since this would guarantee their establishment of a state in South Yemen.
The prospects of rebels, i.e. the Houthis’, defeat have increased in the North ever since their former ally Ali Abdullah Saleh ended his alliance with them. The Houthis’ situation worsened after they killed Saleh as most of the latter’s supporters turned against them.
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Hostile regional parties like Qatar sought to fuel the situation by worsening the southern separatist militias’ propaganda that incites against the government. This political activity is nothing new but it now harmonizes with the Houthis’ interests and seeks to create a front that compensates the Houthis for losing Saleh’s camp by besieging the government in Aden.
Government forces which thought they will restore Sanaa realized they can lose Aden. It’s a bad political and military development that proves old fears that southern parties which tend to favor separation are infiltrated by the same powers – specifically Iran and Qatar – that want to prolong the duration of war in Yemen.
This contradicts with what Qatar has been marketing as it claimed there are disputes among the members of the coalition in support of the legitimate government. Doha has been playing the same old tune as it thinks if it convinces people, it will be able to neutralize the anti-terror quartet that’s boycotted it.
There is a wide segment of people in the South who believe that unification impoverished them and led to oppression and injusticeAbdulrahman al-Rashed
This analysis does not mean there is no desire to separate into North and South and that there are no movements in favor of this separation; however, it shows the relation between the events in which more than 20 people were killed - or who were rather killed during unjustified confrontations.
Those calling for separation call for using military power based on complaints from the current situation due to the brutal war. What’s certain is that the armed attack on the premiership headquarters has gone beyond the limits of a political dispute.
The armed group behind the attack, and which raises slogans that appeal to the sentiment of Yemenis in the South, is now like the Houthis in terms of committing the same crime of taking up arms against the state.
What about their desire to separate Yemen into two independent states? This is up to the Yemeni people. If they agree on separation in the future, then so be it, and if they don’t, the party in favor of separation can go ahead and take its demand to specialized international organizations under the excuse that “Yemen consisted of two independent states and its time to separate again after unity failed.”
The UN may agree to this demand via the international court or another institution, and the dispute would thus end in a civilized, legal and safe way. It may also reject it and the controversy would come to an end. The Kurds in Iraq tried their luck and they had a long history that supported this right.
Laws that govern
However, countries are not managed according to the desires of politicians and parties calling for separation but according to laws that govern peoples’ relations.
There is a wide segment of people in the South who believe that unification impoverished them and led to oppression and injustice. What’s certain is that late President Saleh’s governance destroyed all of Yemen and is in fact greatly responsible for the failure of the state.
The current war was launched to eliminate pockets of rebellion and end attempts to illegitimately seize power. It seeks to restore the state’s entity according to the UN’s project for a democratic Yemen as supported by the Gulf initiative - to establish an interim government then draft a constitution under international supervision, hold parliamentary elections then presidential elections and form a government.
Only the Yemenis choose their leaders under international supervision. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran or Qatar do not decide on their behalf. The Iranians, however, are using the Houthis to keep what they gained during the coup and to prevent the implementation of the aforementioned international plan.
Those calling for separation in the South can wait and then legally and properly request separation instead of destroying the country with their own hands and of being dragged behind countries that scheme chaotic plans to target the coalition’s countries at the expense of the Yemeni people’s lives, security and stability.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.