Yemen’s government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) have started preparations for implementing military and security provisions of a long-delayed political deal signed between the two rival factions last year in Saudi Arabia.
Local military sources said on Thursday that the two-warring sides finally reached a consensus on ceasing hostilities and conducting troops redeployment in the country’s southern provinces ahead of declaring a new power-sharing government.
One source told Xinhua news agency that senior officers of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition backed by armoured vehicles arrived in the southern province of Abyan and began holding meetings with military leaders of the government and the STC.
“During the meetings, the Saudi officers discussed separating the forces of the two sides and conducting troops redeployment from the fighting areas in Abyan.
“The Saudi military observers will closely organise plans for withdrawing forces affiliated with the two sides from Abyan and other neighbouring towns within a week,” the source added.
Implementing the redeployment plans will be monitored and supervised by the Saudi officers who will also determine the future tasks of forces belonging to the two rival factions in southern Yemen, according to the official.
Amin Hussein, a spokesman for the government forces in Abyan, confirmed to Xinhua that their forces will begin withdrawal from the coastal city of Shuqrah which is located on the Arabian Sea according to the instructions given by the Saudi observing committee.
Military units loyal to Yemen’s government are based in Shuqrah and previously waged a series of offensives in an attempt to advance into the southern towns controlled by the STC, including the southern port city of Aden, but faced stiff resistance.
Saudi Arabia’s official news agency reported that “all necessary arrangements have been completed to carry out the mechanism to accelerate the implementation of Riyadh Agreement”.
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting Houthis in Yemen will also continue to support security units to carry out their essential duties of maintaining security and stability and fighting terrorist organisations, according to the Saudi agency.
Meanwhile, Nizar Haitham, the STC’s official spokesman, praised Saudi Arabia’s efforts that facilitated “the achievement of the final consensus on declaring the new power-sharing government”.
In 2019, Saudi Arabia persuaded the STC and the Yemeni government to hold reconciliation talks, which succeeded in reaching a deal to form a new technocratic cabinet of no more than 24 ministers.
The impoverished Arab country has been locked in a civil war since late 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country and seized all northern regions including the capital city of Sanaa.