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Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and President Hadi during the signing ceremony in Riyadh Tuesday. Image Credit:

Riyadh: A peace deal sealed Tuesday by Yemen’s government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) has drawn massive regional and international praise.

The Saudi-brokered pact, signed in Riyadh, ends a feud between the government and the STC and refocuses efforts on fighting Yemen’s Iran-allied Al Houthi militia.

“I appreciate the great efforts made by Saudi Arabia in unifying the Yemeni people and its pivotal role in bringing about the Riyadh Agreement,” said His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who attended the signing ceremony. “We sincerely wish that peace and prosperity prevail and that Yemenis enjoy security, stability and development,” he added.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump tweeted on the deal: “A very good start! Please all work hard to get a final deal.”

Kuwait’s Emir Sabah Al Ahmad also hailed the Riyadh pact, which was signed by representatives from the Yemeni government and the STC in the presence of Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

“The agreement will contribute to unifying ranks to solve differences and preserve brotherly Yemen’s security and stability,” the Kuwaiti Emir said in a message to Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz.

The Yemeni government and the STC are partners to an Arab military coalition fighting in Yemen against Al Houthis. In August, clashes erupted between Yemeni forces and STC cadres, triggering a rift in the anti-Al Houthi alliance.

Yemen’s UN envoy Martin Griffiths called the Riyadh agreement, an “important step” for collective efforts to advance a peaceful settlement to Yemen’s conflict.

“Listening to southern stakeholders is important to the political efforts to achieve peace in the country,” he said in an online statement.

“I am grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for mediating successfully this agreement and for their strenuous diplomatic efforts,” Griffiths said. “I hope that this agreement will strengthen stability in Aden and the surrounding governorates and improve the lives of the citizens,” he added.

Saudi Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid Bin Salman praised the responses of the Yemeni government and the STC for the kingdom’s efforts to end their row. “They have put the Yemeni people’s interests over any other consideration,” Prince Khaled tweeted. “The kingdom also appreciates the positive role of brothers in the UAE to reach the Riyadh Agreement.” Prince Khalid hoped the accord will pave the way for reaching a political solution to the Yemeni crisis.

The Cairo-based Arab League also lauded the pact, calling it an “important step” for safeguarding Yemen’s territorial integrity.

Earlier in the day, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash termed the pact signing as a “historic day”.

Saudi Arabia hosted indirect talks between the two sides, resulting in the power-sharing pact, officially called the “Riyadh Agreement”.

The deal includes forming a 24-strong government equally composed of Yemen’s southern and northern provinces, excluding Al Houthis. It also provides for the return of the government to Yemen’s southern city of Aden, which the pro-STC forces seized from the government troops in August.

Aden became the seat of the Yemeni government after Al Houthi militiamen seized the capital Sana’a in September 2014, plunging the impoverished country into a ruinous war.

Yemen has been in the grip of a devastating conflict since Al Houthis toppled Hadi’s internationally recognised government in late 2014. UN efforts to resolve the conflict, which has pushed impoverished Yemen to the verge of famine, have been stymied over Al Houthis’ recalcitrance and procrastination.

Last week, the UAE announced the return of its forces from Aden after having successfully accomplished their role in liberating and stabilising the city, and transferring its charge to Saudi and Yemeni forces.