UK’S KEY ROLE IN SOUTH YEMEN
[LONDON – 27 MAY] On 23 May the British Parliament held a debate on the crisis in Yemen. Such discussions are important to ensure international focus remains on ending the suffering of the Yemeni people. The UK has indeed been at the forefront of supporting the UN-led political process to end the crisis, for which we are grateful.
In recent weeks international focus had predominantly been on Hodeida and the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement. As the Southern Transitional Council (STC), we have consistently supported any efforts that would protect innocent lives. But the narrow focus on Hodeida has been manipulated by the Houthis with their military escalation beyond Hodeida. This has in particular been felt in the South.
In the last few weeks the Houthis have advanced on Southern border towns and cities including Dhalea, Lahj and Abyan, where a sustained indiscriminate onslaught is continuing today. This has included the use of ballistic missiles by the Houthis against the civilian population. Many innocent civilians have been killed or injured, and thousands forced to leave their homes. In response to this escalation, it has been Southern resistance forces aligned to the STC that have had to come to the defence of our people and countered the Houthi aggression.
The STC reaffirms its commitments to a political solution to end the crisis. Events on the ground in the South Yemen in recent weeks though illustrate that the Houthis have no interest in a negotiation process, while on the other side the recognised Hadi government has no links or credibility on the ground in South Yemen.
It is in this context we seek the UK’s support to ensure the conditions for a genuine inclusive political process beyond the two warring parties. They simply cannot credibly represent the interests of all the constituencies on the ground. As the STC we stand ready to play a constructive role in these efforts, and will continue our close engagement with the current UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths.
It is only through such a comprehensive approach to make the prospects of a political solution viable. It is only right and just that as a key representative of the Southern people that we seek to play an active role in a process that is to determine our future.
Dr Saleh al-Haj
Southern Transitional Council – UK Office