UAE urges for calm in Yemen's Aden

Erika Holt
August 12, 2019

Fighting between Yemeni government forces and southern separatists entered the third day Friday, leaving more than 20 killed, including five civilians, officials said.

Fierce clashes resumed on Saturday in Yemen's southern port of Aden between nominally allied forces that have turned on each other, exposing rifts in a pro-government military coalition and complicating United Nations efforts to end the country's war.

The Saudi foreign ministry said it had invited the Yemeni government and "all parties involved in the conflict in Aden to hold an urgent meeting in Saudi Arabia to discuss disputes, give priority to prudence and dialogue, and unify ranks." Col.

But another force in the anti-Huthi coalition, trained by Riyadh ally the United Arab Emirates, has since Wednesday been battling loyalists in Aden, the temporary base of Hadi's government.

But this week's deadly clashes between the UAE-backed separatists and the government troops highlighted a rift fracturing the alliance, threatening to open a new front in Yemen's five-year-war that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the impoverished country to the brink of starvation. Clashes engulfed the city's streets after the separatists accused Islah of playing a role in a missile attack on a military parade that killed dozens of separatist fighters and a prominent commander.

Many civilians have also been trapped in their homes with limited supplies of water.

The UAE is the dominant force in Yemen's south, where it has an estimated 90,000 allied militiamen and has always been at odds with the government, which is largely based in Saudi Arabia.

The official, speaking in a video statement circulated by supporters of the separatist movement, said the group had met no resistance.

"Two hundred soldiers from the Presidential Guard were given safe passage out of the palace", the official said.

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The separatists earlier took over the interior minister's house after he was evacuated by coalition forces, officials said.

The southern port city of Aden has been the base of the Hadi government since it was driven from the capital Sana'a by the rebels more than four years ago.

He told The Associated Press that Saudi Arabia was now trying to "save face and work out if there is a deal to be done" between the UAE-backed southern separatists and the government.

Analysts said Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, Sunni Muslim allies united against Shi'ite Iran, would work together to contain the crisis even though the UAE in June scaled down its military presence in Yemen as Western pressure mounted to end the war.

The separatists move against Hadi could weaken the coalition's hand in any negotiations with the Houthis.

Fahim reported from Istanbul and al-Mujahed reported from New Delhi. "It ends the exclusivity of the Houthis being the coup against Hadi", Farea al-Muslimi, associate fellow at Chatham House, told Reuters.

International Committee of the Red Cross Yemen Chief Franz Rauchenstein tweeted that all sides should spare "civilians and residential areas from confrontations".

Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are believed to have been the main forces behind the war on Yemen and the closest partners in the coalition attacking the poor fellow-Arab country. The Houthis deny being puppets of Iran and say their revolt is against corruption.

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