RIYADH AGREEMENT: IMPORTANT STEP TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION FOR THE SOUTH
[ADEN – 15 November 2019] On 4 November the Southern Transitional Council and the Government of Yemen agreed on a series of measures covering political, economic, and security arrangements – known as the Riyadh Agreement – as part of diplomatic efforts to address the Southern issue and bring about a political settlement to the Yemen conflict. This was an important agreement and must be seen as part of a wider UN-led process to address the legitimate aims of the Southern people.
The agreement was reached under the auspices of the STC’s regional allies, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, for which we are grateful for their support in convening a dialogue between the Southern Transitional Council and the Yemeni government. This important step was part of the ongoing support our regional partners have provided us, and we look forward to our continued strategic relationship.
In reaching this agreement, the STC over a period of several weeks engaged constructively with the dialogue process in good faith and with no pre-conditions. This approach came against a backdrop of escalation on the ground against our people, as evident by the attacks against South Yemen at the start of August. As we stated clearly from the beginning, the solution to the crisis was and remains a political one. This is why the STC took all necessary measures to ensure the protection of civilians in the South, restore security and stability in Aden, and intensify our diplomatic efforts to bring about a sustainable and long lasting solution that meets the legitimate aims of our people. For too long the South had been marginalised and neglected. That status quo was no longer acceptable, and events on the ground from August changed the context and made clear the urgent need for a solution for the Southern cause.
Against this background, the Riyadh Agreement is a positive first step to shifting the status quo. For the first time there is a formal recognition of the unique nature of the Southern cause and Southerners’ needs, including our legitimate demand to determine our own future. This is the cornerstone of the Southern cause that the STC can never renege on. In this regard, we now look forward to engaging with the Yemeni government, as an equal partner and signatory of this Agreement, to ensure the security, governance, protection, and development of South Yemen.
To be clear: the Riyadh Agreement offers a critical window of opportunity but more work lies ahead. It is a key stepping stone to the broader political effort under the auspices of the UN. As we have reiterated previously, any UN political process needs to be broad and inclusive at all stages, and to address a comprehensive range of issues, including the Southern issue. A piecemeal approach would only fall short in delivery as we have seen with past political initiatives. We therefore welcome the recognition of our key role in the Agreement and our guaranteed participation in the UN political process led by Envoy Martin Griffiths. For the first time, the UN process would have legitimate Southern representatives through the STC at the negotiating table to advocate for the South within the broader political solution for the Yemeni crisis. We remain fully committed to playing our part and to intensifying our diplomatic engagement for a solution for the South through democratic means.
We remain cautiously optimistic about this Agreement. The true test of any agreement is credible implementation, and we are not naive to this. We are already facing some challenges in this area, but we are committed to following through on the commitments made in this agreement by both sides on various issues. This includes important cooperation on counter-terrorism, efforts to address the Houthi and Iranian-backed aggression and ensure security, and working to stabilise the economic situation and deliver humanitarian aid and relief for our people. In this regard, we look to our regional and international partners for their steadfast support to enable this agreement to succeed and pave the way for renewed UN talks on all issues integral to a negotiated political solution to the crisis without delay.
Southern Transitional Council