Forces allied with the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) over the weekend reportedly seized the presidential palace in Aden, Yemen’s second largest city, amid fighting that killed upwards of 40 people and wounded at least 260 others. The clashes first erupted last Wednesday when the STC launched an offensive on the order of ex-cabinet minister Hani Bin Braik to “topple” the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Braik accused Hadi of being a member the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Arab Islamic body that many Gulf nations deem a terrorist organization. The development further complicates an already precarious situation whereby a Saudi-led coalition for over four years has been fighting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in a bid to reestablish Hadi’s rule. Hadi, whose seat of power is in Aden, has been living in exile in Saudi Arabia since the Houthis in 2014 took over the capital Sana’a and ousted his government. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates, which did much of the heavy lifting on the ground on behalf of the US-backed coalition, recently announced that it would pull its forces out of Yemen. Abu Dhabi supports the STC, a scenario that could cause friction with Riyadh. The ongoing war has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed some 15 million Yemenis to the brink of starvation.
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