Al Zubidi denies laying siege on government

Says council seeks to revive South Yemen state but not before defeating Al Houthis

Al Mukalla: Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council is not in a hurry to declare independence in Southern Yemen, and will stand by the Saudi-led coalition fighting to uphold the legitimate government in Yemen until it achieves its military objectives in the country, the council’s leader said.

Major Aidarous Al Zubaidi, the former governor of Aden, told France 24 Arabic TV on Tuesday the council seeks to revive the once sovereign South Yemen state that united with the north in 1990 through a referendum, but not before ousting the Iran-backed Al Houthis from Sana’a. “We will stand firmly by the coalition until they completely cleanse Yemen from Al Houthis,” he said

Violence erupted in Aden after the Southern Transitional Council, an organisation comprising key figures in South Yemen, sent an ultimatum last week to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to dismiss the government of Ahmad Bin Dagher, accusing it of being ineffective and corrupt.

Al Zubaidi said government forces blocked protesters from searching Aden’s Khor Maksar, where the STC was planning to camp out until the government leaves. Deadly clashes broke out on Sunday and Monday between the council forces and government’s presidential forces.

Despite seizing control of Aden’s key institutions in Aden, Al Zubaidi said the council would not overthrow the government by force and it would alternatively repeat demands to Hadi and the Saudi-led coalition to replace it with a cabinet of technocrats. “We did not besiege the government,” he said, responding to Bin Dagher’s accusation that the council was laying a siege to the government in Aden.

Peaceful pro-independence protests in Southern Yemen broke out in 2007 when thousands of southerners took to the streets, demanding the rebirth of the former South Yemen state and accusing northerners of monopolising wealth and power in the new state.

Al Zubaidi said his council wanted to take part in any talks on the future of Yemen, as a representative of South Yemen, and urged the United Nations to sponsor a referendum on unification. “This is a legitimate right. The future of the south should be decided through the ballot box,” Al Zubaidi said.

Tensions among southerners intensified when rumours spread that Tareq Mohammad Abdullah Saleh, the nephew of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who decamped to Aden after the death of his uncle, was planning to build military camps to train anti-Al Houthi forces. “We reject the presence of northern forces in the south, but we would go to the north to help Tareq and the northern resistance liberate their lands.” he said, adding that southern forces, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, are making gains in Hodeida province and would press on with attacks until they reach Sana’a.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni army in Taiz on Wednesday declared several areas of the north and east of the city as military zones and warned citizens not to approach, as fighting continued on several fronts. This followed the announcement by the army of a large-scale military operation to liberate the province of Taiz from the occupation of Al Houthi militia.


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