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Yemeni Gov’t Discounts Talks with Separatists amid Aden Standoff

Yemen’s internationally recognized government will not hold future talks with southern separatists until such time they withdraw from Aden, the interim seat of parliament since the capital Sana’a was in 2014 captured by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Saudi Arabia, which over four years ago intervened militarily in the conflict, held a forum this week attended by senior members of the Southern Transitional Council, (STC) which recently captured the presidential palace in Aden, in addition to government buildings and army bases. “We will not participate in any dialogue with the [STC] unless it withdraws from the sites it seized, hands over weapons, allows government forces to return and ends all its violations,” a Yemeni Foreign Ministry statement said. The development has fractured the alliance between Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates, which played a key role in fighting the Houthis – who nevertheless maintain northern strongholds – but is now backing the separatist STC.