05/20/2016, 18.42
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Yemen at risk of break-up following tomorrow’s “declaration of independence’

by Pierre Balanian

The Supreme Council of the Revolutionary and Peaceful Southern Movement is set to announce South Yemen’s secession. Saudi and UAE interference hides hegemonic ambitions and fears. Some analysts, as well as some South Yemeni military, view the move as “premature and extreme”.

Aden (AsiaNews) – May 21 2016 could be a crucial day in Yemen’s history. Saleh Yahya Saied, president of the Supreme Council of the Revolutionary and Peaceful Southern Movement, which is close to former President Ali Salem al Beidh, plans to proclaim South Yemen’s secession tomorrow.

"Aden will celebrate 21 May,” he said, “the day the South will break its ties [with the North] by declaring its independence.” The Saudi dream of a divided Yemen, this time with the military support of the United Arab Emirates and by military action waged against northern Yemen (officially to eradicate Al Qaeda), seems close at hand.

As the story goes, the founder of Saudi Arabia summoned his many sons, legitimate or not, to his deathbed, telling them to keep an eye on Yemen because danger to the Saudi kingdom could come only from Yemen.

Since then, Yemen has remained poor despite its oil resources, shared language, religion, and ethnicity. However, never have the heirs to the founder of the Saudi state dared to wake up the “sleeping lion” through military action, until the new Saudi monarch got the kingdom militarily involved in the Yemeni quagmire, breaking with the founder’s will.

Despite Saudi and UAE support, tomorrow’s step is not backed by all South Yemeni factions who see it as premature and extreme. Until recently, northerners were labelled secessionists and anti-system in political propaganda. Now the opposite seems to be the case, as one Yemeni analyst suggest.

Southern forces fighting as “allies’ set up by Saudi Arabia in a ‘Southern Army’ are in reality “very weak and unprepared”. This was clear in early fighting, until Saudi Arabia and Gulf states intervened to prevent their collapse.

Secessionist forces are backed by the UAE, which have not hidden their hegemonic plans for the area. Some believe that the UAE has ambitions over Socotra Island.

Now all eyes are turned to Saudi Arabia to see what it will do when independence is declared. So far, Riyadh has always opposed the country’s break-up, and has officially backed a “single, united Yemen”.

For Ansar Allah, the "aggression by the allies against Yemen" was meant to undermine “the country as a sovereign state via direct interference in its domestic political and military affairs . . .". In its view, puppet movements in the South operate "in violation of UN Security Council resolutions that reiterate the country’s unity”.

Even among Southern officers there are doubts. Ali Mohamad Al Khawar, a general in pro-Saudi army, views the move as "premature, since it lacks a proper security force and army.”

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