The United States said that it is concerned with Yemen’s southern separatists’ claim of sole control over Aden breaking peace deal with the internationally recognised government. State Secretary Mike Pompeo said in a statement that such unilateral actions only exacerbate instability in Yemen, especially unhelpful at a time when the country is threatened by COVID-19.
Pompeo said that the announcement of “self-rule” by Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council (STC) in the regional capital Aden threatens to complicate the efforts of the UN Special Envoy to revive political negotiations between the government and the Houthi rebels. The top diplomat called on the STC and the Republic of Yemen Government to reengage in the political process provided under the Riyadh Agreement.
On April 27, STC declared a state of emergency in Aden and said that it would "self-govern" the key southern port city and other southern provinces. The tensions soared after authorities in five southern provinces rejected the group's claim to self-rule. Yemen has been marred with internal conflicts for years in which the factions are backed by external forces like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia and the UAE intervened in the conflict on request of former Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and the continued fighting has caused disproportionate suffering for the civilians. Last month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made an appeal for an immediate global ceasefire fearing a collapse of health systems in war-ravaged countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guterres called upon the Government of Yemen and Houthis to follow through on their commitment to immediate cessation of hostilities. He also urged both parties to engage with each other in “good faith and without preconditions” in the negotiations facilitated by UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths.
“Only through dialogue will the parties be able to agree on a mechanism for sustaining a nation-wide ceasefire, humanitarian and economic confidence-building measures to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, and the resumption of the political process to reach a comprehensive settlement to end the conflict,” said the UN chief in a statement.