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Yemen's UAE-backed southern separatists warn of 'imminent' war with government Open in fullscreen

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Yemen's UAE-backed southern separatists warn of 'imminent' war with government

Members of the Security Belt Froces, the military wing of the STC [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 April, 2020

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Emirati-backed insurgents say a shaky power-sharing deal with the internationally-recognised government is on the verge of collapse, threatening to revive a secondary conflict within Yemen's gruelling civil war.
Yemen's Emirati-backed separatist movement, the Southern Transitionary Council (STC), warned on Friday that tensions with the Saudi-backed government are rising to the point where a war between the two sides is "imminent".

In a statement, the STC said it had informed the ambassadors of major countries to Yemen as well at the UN envoy Martin Griffiths that: "The outbreak of war is imminent" after "violations by the government" that have prevented a "sustainable political agreement" between the two sides.

The STC accused the internationally-recognised government of attempting to regain control of southern governorates in violation of the ceasefire agreed in November.

The southern governorate of Abyan has witnessed unprecedented escalations in recent days, after the separatists sent hundreds of troops to the area in what it says was to "strengthen its sovereignty" against the government.

The STC also accuses the government of trying to regain control over Aden, which was seized by the secessionists in August in a brutal battle.
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The Riyadh Agreement power-sharing deal agreed in November was designed to unify Saudi-backed government and UAE-backed separatist forces, but since March, frequent clashes have signalled the agreement is faltering.

Another source of tension has been the geostrategic Socotra island, where UAE-backed militias have clashes with government forces.  

UAE's involvement in Yemen, consisting of backing a wide range of southern separatist forces, is seen as an attempt to consolidate its influence over the Red Sea.

Meanwhile ceasefire negotiations between the government and the Houthi rebels is nearing completion despite continuing military activities on several fronts, Martin Griffiths said on Friday.

"We are redoubling our efforts to bridge the outstanding differences between the parties," he said, adding that he feared fighting would continue on the ground until agreement was reached on the proposals.

The city of Marib, east of the capital of Sanaa, he said "remains the center of gravity of this war".

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