COLLECTIVE INTERNATIONAL EFFORT BEHIND UN POLITICAL PROCESS CRUCIAL TO SOUTHERN ISSUE
[ADEN – 28 August 2019] Events in recent weeks have brought international attention to the situation in the South. While the Southern Transitional Council has established security and local governance arrangements in Aden, there has been escalation in other governorates, notably in Shabwah and Abyan. In parallel there has been an intensification of ISIS and AQ attacks in recent weeks against the Southern people.
Our focus since the brutal attacks against the South from 1 August has been to protect civilians and restore stability. It was this intent that led to the STC’s acceptance to take part in a dialogue process in Jeddah with the Hadi government under the guidance of Saudi Arabia. The STC went into those talks without any preconditions, viable policy options to generate confidence building measures, and an overall constructive negotiating approach. In stark contrast the Hadi government refused to engage in the process in Jeddah, and instead on the ground, escalated the situation in Shabwah governorate. This escalation has included credible reports of the role of extremist fighters from both ISIS and AQAP being active on the ground. Against this backdrop the STC welcomes the ceasefire initiative by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. As we have informed our Coalition partners, the STC remains fully focused on de-escalation.
The ceasefire arrangement offers a small window of opportunity to bring back all efforts towards a political solution. In this regard, the STC renews its commitment to a UN-led political track and we call on our international partners to redouble their efforts in support of a comprehensive credible political process to address the Southern issue and, by extension, the Yemeni crisis. The STC has been consistent in its constructive engagement with UN Envoy Martin Griffiths in order to secure a genuine political solution that stands the best chance of success.
For the STC, the importance of the South to the wider diplomatic effort to end the Yemeni crisis has never been in question: The South is part of the UN Envoy’s framework for negotiations. The question has been one of timeline and process. This month’s developments stress that it is high time for a comprehensive political solution that tackles the South issue alongside the other key components of Yemen’s political solution.
We know that this requires a negotiation process under UN auspices – with strong support and leadership from the international community – that integrates the South issue and Southern representatives. We welcome Mr Griffiths’ commitment to inclusive dialogue, addressing the legitimate concerns of Southern groups, and of the inclusion of Southern representatives in the peace process in his briefing to the UN Security Council on 20 August. The Southern people have made clear that their grievances can no longer be ignored, and their voices will only get louder across the South, including for the legitimate demand of independence. As ever, we stand ready to discuss with our international allies our vision for the South and to play our part in de-escalation and counter-terrorism toward sustainable peace in the region.