Yemen, new battle front: pro-emirate separatists against Aden government

15 people died in the weekend clashes, at least 30 were wounded. The rebels from the south are demanding the resignation of the prime minister and the government, accused of corruption. In the temporary capital schools, universities and the airport closed. Red Cross sound alarm for civilian victims.

Sana'a (AsiaNews) - A new battlefront has opened in Yemen, a country battered by almost three years of civil war that has caused thousands of victims and some of the worst epidemics in the world.

Over the weekend, the separatist forces of the south - supported by the United Arab Emirates (Eau) - launched the assault on the government headquarters of pro-Saudi president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi in Aden, in the south. The city is now provisional capital of the state, following the rise to power in Sana'a of the Houthi Shiite rebels close to Iran.

Overnight the southern separatists sent further reinforcements to Aden, the second city of the country, to fuel the battle against the government troops. The militias are from Abyane, in southern Yemen, and from the central area of ​​Marib.

The southern transition council, representing the separatist groups, has called for the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher and his executive, accused of "corruption".

The situation in the south also worries the leaders of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which confirm that rocket launches and gunfire continued "all night" in Aden. Because of the fighting, the rescue vehicles cannot operate and "the civilian population is paying the price".

Yesterday the separatist forces seized the temporary headquarters of the government; the clashes with the Loyalist forces have caused, according to an initial assessment, at least 15 dead and over 30 wounded. But the victim count could get worse in the next few hours.

The movement has grown in recent years and has obtained the tacit support of the United Arab Emirates after Hadi left Aden to take refuge in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher led the government resistance and spoke of a "coup attempt".

Yemen was reunified in 1990, after the division between the pro-western north of the country and the socialist south. Today the divisions are ethnic and confessional: the northern, mostly Shiite, supported by Iran against the Sunni south, close to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. However, the Sunni front is also crumbling: the tension began to mount in recent days, after the forces loyal to President Hadi opened fire during a demonstration by the separatists. The airport of the city of Aden has been closed, as well as the schools and universities of the area. Everyone expects an escalation of violence, in spite of the (vain) calls for calm and dialogue between the parties, to the full advantage of the Houthi Shiite rebels in the north who could take advantage of the situation to strengthen the grip on the country.

In Yemen more than 80% of the population lack food, fuel, clean water and access to basic health services. The situation was aggravated by the Saudi blockade in place since early November of last year, which contributed to the exacerbation of the emergency.

Recently, even the apostolic vicar confirmed to AsiaNews the seriousness of the "disaster" that is  taking place in the Arab country.