Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council, which has been seeking a return to two separate states, resumed fighting with government troops in the southern Abyan Province on Wednesday, less than a month after saying it was ready to accept a Saudi unity proposal. The secessionists, backed by the United Arab Emirates, are accusing the government of breaking the terms of the proposal by sending troops to the province. Despite their differences, the separatists had joined with government forces and a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni states to fight against Shi’ite Houthi rebels who, with backing from Iran, had dislodged the government from the capital Sanaa in late 2014. Earlier this year, the council withdrew from the fight, accusing the government of exerting too much power in the south, particularly in the port city of Aden, leading to sporadic clashes. The Saudis are interested in rejuvenating the anti-Houthi campaign, which flagged with the schism and the UAE’s de facto departure from the coalition, as part of their wider jostling with regional rival Iran.
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