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Separatists to End Quest for Two Yemens – for Now

Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council, which oversees various militias that have been seeking a return to two separate states, indicated on Wednesday that it was ready to accept a Saudi proposal for a single government, with representatives from both the North and South of the country. “We have achieved our goals,” Council spokesman Nizar Haitham said. “We affirm the continuing and deepening of our strategic partnership with the Arab coalition.” Haitham was referring to a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni states that in 2015 came to the aid of Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which had been removed earlier that year from the capital Sanaa by Shi’ite Houthi rebels. The rebels are backed by Iran, which is seen by Sunni states as a danger to the stability of the Gulf and the wider region. The separatists had joined in the fight against the Houthis, although earlier this year they split with the government, returning to actively pursuing their goal for a separate state in southern Yemen, much as there had been from 1967 until 1990. Following the split, they declared control over the southern port city of Aden, which the government has been using as a provisional capital after being ousted from Sanaa. Under the Saudi proposal, they will appoint a separatist-aligned governor for the city.