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Yemen's government threatens legal action against UAE's support of southern separatists

Yemen's Saudi-backed government has accused the UAE of supporting the coup [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 August, 2019

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Yemen's internationally-recognised government refused talks with secessionists until they fully withdraw from the south of the country, reports confirmed on Wednesday.

Yemen’s Saudi-backed government accused its UAE ally of supporting what it described "a coup" in the temporary capital Aden, warning on Wednesday it would take legal action against the Gulf state as separatists advanced in on a nearby southern city.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hadhrami warned the government would take action "in accordance with international law and the UN Charter to ensure that the UAE halts its supports for the the transitional council, which has enabled the armed rebellion in Aden and Abyan", according to The New Arab's arabic sister platform. 

The Yemeni official added the government "will not take part in discussions with the (STC)... unless it withdraws from positions it has seized" and hands over all the weapons it captured from government troops.

The Yemeni government, which has denounced a UAE-backed "coup", said on Tuesday the Abu Dhabi was "fully responsible for the armed rebellion" and urged it to stop backing "this militia".

"The armed rebellion... is supported financially, logistically and with the knowledge of the UAE," Yemen's permanent representative at the UN, Abdullah al-Saadi, said in comments carried by state media.

"If it were not for the full support of the UAE, this rebellion would not have taken place," he told the UN Security Council.

The UAE, which has been financing and training fighters in the south of Yemen for several years, rejected accusations it supported southern separatists in their seizure of Aden.

"We regret hearing today allegations directed against the UAE regarding developments in Aden, which we categorically reject," the UAE's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, Saud Al-Shamsi, wrote on Twitter.

The UAE, a key partner in the Saudi-led military coalition backing the government against northern-based Houthi rebels, "is exerting all efforts to de-escalate the situation in Yemen", he added.

The accusations came after the UAE-trained Security Belt Forces, dominated by pro-independence Southern Transitional Council (STC) fighters, ousted loyalists from the port city earlier this month.

The clashes in the capital of formerly independent South Yemen left around 40 people dead, according to the UN.

Separatist forces withdrew from a number of state institutions under pressure from the Saudi-led coalition, but kept key military positions.

Read more: Comment: Violence in Aden tests Emirati-Saudi alliance

Tensions escalated on Tuesday as STC fighters drove government troops out of two military camps along the coast of Aden, in the nearby Abyan governate.

It came as STC head Aidarus al-Zubaidi arrived in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Tuesday night at the invitation of the kingdom's foreign ministry, for talks to resolve the standoff.

Meanwhile, the UN's Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths, who headed  to the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Wednesday to meet with Houthi rebel officials, warned the war-torn country faced re-partition in the absence of an urgent deal to end decades of conflict.

South Yemen was an independent state from 1967 until it merged with the north in 1990.

Four years later, an armed secession bid ended in occupation by northern forces, giving rise to resentments which persist to this day.

The Yemeni government took Aden as its de facto capital after losing Sanaa to the Houthis in 2014 - a takeover which sparked a Saudi-led intervention the following year.

The fighting has since killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the country to the brink of famine. 

The latest spike in tensions between separatists and pro-government forces constrains their cooperation against the Iran-aligned Houthis.

Yemen's conflict has sparked what the UN labels the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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