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Yemeni government and southern separatists agree to share power

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The internationally recognized Yemeni government and separatists have reached a Saudi-sponsored deal to share power in southern Yemen, government sources and the Southern Transitional Council said Friday.

Under the agreement, the Southern Transitional Council will assume a number of ministries in the Yemeni government, and the government will return to the interim capital Aden, according to officials and Saudi media reports.

South Yemen has seen fighting between pro-secessionist forces and pro-government forces that led to the separatist takeover of Aden and other areas in August.

A Yemeni government source told AFP on condition of anonymity that “the agreement will be signed no later than Tuesday in the presence of President Hadi and President of the Southern Transitional Council Aidroos al-Zubaidi.”

According to the official, the agreement “requires the restructuring of the government and the involvement of the Transitional Council in a number of ministries, and the return of the government to Aden within seven days after the signing of the agreement.”

Yemeni separatists and representatives of the internationally recognized government have been engaged for weeks in indirect negotiations in Jeddah on a power-sharing deal in the south of the country.

The official Saudi news channel, in a tweet on dawn on Friday, “reached an agreement between the Yemeni government and the Transitional Council,” representing the separatists.

In another tweet, Al-Akhbariya said that the agreement provides for the formation of a government of 24 ministers, in “a government that is equally divided between the southern and northern governorates of Yemen.”

The Saudi-led coalition will oversee a “joint committee” to implement the deal.

Under the agreement, the Yemeni prime minister will return to the interim capital of Aden to “activate state institutions.”

– Differences in the anti-Houthi camp –

The war in Yemen has been mainly between Houthi rebels close to Iran and forces loyal to the government, backed by a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, since the Houthis seized large areas, including Sanaa, more than four years ago.

But there are deep differences in the anti-Houthi camp. The supposedly pro-government forces in the south, where power is stationed, include pro-secession factions from the north. The south was an independent state before unification in 1990.

On October 14, the UAE handed over to Saudi forces important sites in Aden, south of Yemen, including the city’s airport to facilitate the implementation of any agreement between the Yemeni government and separatists.

The UAE trained and armed separatist forces. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, openly supports the government.

But its relationship with the Yemeni authorities is tense and suspicious, with Abu Dhabi accusing these authorities of allowing the growing influence of Islamists within it, while authorities say that the UAE is helping separatist forces militarily to carry out a “coup”, which the Gulf state denies.

Saudi Arabia maintains good relations with the Yemeni government and separatists alike, allowing it to act as a mediator between the two sides.

Analysts say differences within the power camp are weakening forces loyal to it in its war against the Houthis.

The UAE has played a pivotal role in the Saudi-led military alliance in Yemen since the start of its operations, before announcing in July that it would reduce its forces in the country and focus on a political solution.

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