Sun | Sep 15, 2019

Yemeni separatists, government forces clash in the south

Published:Wednesday | August 21, 2019 | 12:26 AM

SANAA, Yemen (AP):

Clashes between a Yemeni separatist militia, backed by the United Arab Emirates, and forces loyal to the internationally recognised government killed at least three civilians and wounded nine in southern Abyan province on Tuesday, security officials and local residents said.

The fighting between the two sides — ostensible allies in the Saudi-led coalition that for years has been fighting Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels, based in the north — has added another layer to the complex civil war in the Arab world’s most impoverished country.

After a 10-hour battle, the Security Belt militia, which is trained and financed by the UAE, overran a military camp belonging to the government’s special forces in the provincial capital, Zinjibar, and deployed across much of the city, said the officials and residents. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to talk to the media, while the residents spoke anonymously, fearing reprisal.

The separatists last week took over the port city of Aden, to the west of Zinjibar. Aden has functioned as the seat of President Abed Rabbo Manour Hadi’s government since the Houthis captured Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, and much of the country’s north in 2014.

Hadi’s government said in a statement yesterday that it blamed the UAE for the “armed rebellion” of the separatists, according to the state-run SABA news agency.

Yemen’s information minister, Moammer al-Iryani, earlier urged the Saudi-led coalition to pressure the militia to withdraw their forces from Zinjibar. Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Hadrami called for an “immediate and complete halt of military and financial support” by the UAE to the Yemeni separatists.

UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said yesterday he was alarmed by the violence in Aden and Abyan. “I condemn the unacceptable efforts by the Southern Transitional Council to take control of state institutions,” he said.

Though a key member of the coalition, the UAE never threw its full support behind Hadi because of his ties to Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood group, a pan-Arab movement that many Arab countries, including the UAE, consider a terrorist organisation.