The Southern Movement

Due to the numerous grievances in South Yemen, South Yemenis began to resist the occupation after the war in 1994. On January 13, 2006, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 1986 war, South Yemenis initiated a reconciliation process. They made a plea for reconciliation and forgiveness amongst the population in the south. This reconciliation process was seen as a precondition to joint resistance against the regime of the north and its longstanding marginalization of the south. In 2007, the Southern Movement (al-hirak al-janubi) emerged out of this group who initiated the reconciliation process. At that time, the movement principally consisted of forced retirees from the army and the civil service, their children and young unemployed people. Their claims were mainly of a socio-economic nature. They demonstrated for their reemployment, higher pensions, or the creation of jobs. The government of Ali Abdallah Salih repressively responded to the movement. State security forces quelled the protests. People were killed, arrested, and abducted. Because of the brutality of the regime, the peaceful protest movement gained momentum and found increasing solidarity from the population. To this day, the movement continues to organize rallies and events throughout the entire territory of South Yemen.

South Yemenis hoped that the National Dialogue Conference, which the transitional process (Initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council) initiated in 2011, and held in Sanaa in 2013/14, would lead to a fair solution of the southern cause. One of the nine discussion groups of the conference dealt exclusively with the southern cause. Relevant topics, such as the seizure of southern land and the forced retirement of hundreds of thousands of South Yemenis, were made subjects of discussion and their relevance for the peace process recognized. Thereupon, two commissions were established which dealt with the victims of land grabbing and forced retirement in South Yemen, tasked with finding solutions for compensation. The work of these commissions was interrupted by the war that began in 2015 in Yemen.

The Initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council generally envisaged the only solution to be a united Yemen. Therefore, significant figures of the Southern Movement did not participate in the talks. During the conference, the dominance of the elites of Sanaa became apparent, whereupon the small faction of Southern Movement representatives renounced its participation in the dialogue. The decision of President Hadi to restructure Yemen into six federal regions and, thereby, separate South Yemen into two regions (Aden and Hadramawt), was opposed in South Yemen. The Southern Movement rejected the decision, which had been made outside of the conference process, and mass protests followed.

When, in the course of the Yemen war in 2015, the Houthi militias, with the support of army entities under the leadership of former President Ali Abdallah Salih, invaded South Yemen, the so-called “Southern Resistance” emerged in South Yemen, supported by adherents of the Southern Movement. With the assistance of the Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Southern Resistance succeeded, after a three-month siege, to push back the Houthis and Salih’s forces from South Yemen. Thereby, they liberated the territory of South Yemen. The Southern Transitional Council emerged from the Southern Resistance and the Southern Movement in 2017. The council advocates for the recovery of South Yemen’s independence and for the interests of South Yemenis.

The Southern Cause