The new UN special envoy to Yemen has been urged to expand negotiations to end the country’s seven-year civil war to include the South independence Transition Council and other factions.
Speaking to the Guardian of Aden, STC foreign affairs chief Mohammed al-Ghaithi said the UN must recognize that outdated Security Council resolutions restrict their efforts.
The current tenure of UN envoy Hans Grundberg – based on a resolution passed in 2015 – focuses on the internationally recognized Yemeni government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the leadership of the Houthi leaders based in the north.
Many observers say the conflict has long ceased to be a confined two-force battle in Yemen, but involves a variety of actors, making a single national solution more difficult to achieve.
Appointed special envoy last month, Grundberg, a Swede and former EU ambassador to Yemen, traveled this week to Aden, the capital of the south of the country, despite the weekend’s fighting in the city which made six dead and 30 injured.
Grundberg was keen to meet not only the Prime Minister of the Hadi government backed by Saudi Arabia, but also the president of the STC, Aidarous al-Zubaidi, as well as other actors. He then underlined his commitment to inclusiveness, saying that “Yemen has a rich history of political and social diversity. A durable solution is a solution that reflects the interests of diverse and broad segments of Yemeni society. “
Under an agreement with Hadi signed under Saudi supervision in 2019, the STC was supposed to join a power-sharing government in the south, merge the security forces and form a joint body to negotiate with the Houthis.
Rivalries ended most of these events, arguably allowing the Houthis to progress more easily to strategically vital cities in the north, such as Marib, a city of 3 million Yemenis.
Yemen was unified in 1990, and elements of the six southern governorates have always felt the loss of their independence from the north.
Al-Ghaithi said: “It is crucial that the negotiations reflect the realities on the ground. Without representation from the South, there can be no practical peace plan in Yemen …
“The problem with UN Resolution 2216 is that it assumes that there are only two warring parties on the ground when the reality is different. When the UN seriously considers the ceasefire, the safe passage of humanitarian workers and the economic future of the country, it is imperative that it takes into consideration all parties on the ground and among them is the CTS.
The STC said it was ready to test opinion in the south in a binding referendum. He argues: “If the British government were able to give the Scottish people a referendum, the people of southern Yemen could have one. “
The STC also warned that the Iranian-backed Houthis were making military progress in parts of the south under the control of Hadi forces, endangering the roads leading to Marib – the last strategically important city not under Houthi control in the region. North.
The city and province have been under some form of bloody assault from the Houthis for over a year. Marib is about 120 km (75 miles) east of the capital Sana’a, which the Houthis seized along with most of northern Yemen in 2014 when they ousted Hadi.
There have been several thousand casualties on both sides, with the Iran-backed Houthi advance being held back by Saudi air power and resistance in the city.
Al-Ghaithi has said the stakes are high for the Saudis. “If the Houthis win, it will pose a threat to US energy interests, to Saudi Arabia and to the entire Gulf. The Iranians who support the Houthis will not stop in Sana’a. They want to go to Mecca, and they think the road to Mecca goes through Aden. The Saudis know very well what comes after the fall of Aden.