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A fighter with Yemen's separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) mans a gun in the back of a vehicle deploying in the southern city of Aden on April 26. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: The UAE stands against a decision by the main Yemeni southern group, the Southern Transitional Council, to declare self-rule in areas it controls, and urges full implementation of a peace deal agreed last year for the south, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said on Monday. The UAE is a key player in the Saudi-led coalition which is fighting the Iran-backed Al Houthi militia in Yemen and backs the internationally recognised Yemeni government.

"Frustration at delaying in implementing the [Riyadh] agreement should not be a reason for the unilateral change of the situation," Dr Gargash said in a series of tweets. "We have absolute confidence in sisterly Saudi Arabia's keenness to implement the Riyadh Agreement," he added.

"Implementing the text of the Riyadh Agreement and abiding by its spirit are the guidelines of the stage and the cornerstone in the regional and international vision for political solution in Yemen," Dr Gargash said.

Dr Gargash also hailed ties with Saudi Arabia. "We cannot find one more caring for Yemen than sisterly Saudi Arabia. With its political and military leadership of the alliance, we realise its sense of responsibility in this regard. The Emirates will not find a brother, a neighbour and an ally more credible and supportive than Riyadh. Our relations are solid. We share one vision on the region's security and stability," he said.

The Arab alliance Monday urged swift implementation of the deal sealed last year and the return of the situation in the country before the STC’s declaration of self-rule in areas under its control there.

On Sunday, the STC unilaterally declared emergency rule in all southern governorates, including Aden, the temporary capital of Yemen.

In response to the STC declaration, the coalition emphasised the necessity of cancelling any step violating the Riyadh pact signed last November and desisting from escalation.

“The alliance has taken and is still taking practical and systematic steps to implement the Riyadh Agreement, which constitutes the framework, agreed by both parties to unify the Yemenis’ ranks, the return of the state institutions and confront the danger of terrorism,” the coalition said in a statement.

It also called for stopping “any escalatory moves and returning for completing the implementation of the agreement without delay”.

In November, the Yemeni government and the STC signed the Saudi-brokered pact that ended a months-long feud between both sides to refocuse efforts on fighting Al Houthis.

The deal, officially called the “Riyadh Agreement”, provides for forming a 24-strong government equally composed from Yemen’s southern and northern provinces, excluding Al Houthis. It also provides for the return of the government to Aden, which the pro-STC forces seized from the government troops in August. The STC has accused the government of impeding the Riyadh accord.

Recent floods

The alliance Monday renewed its support for the implementation of the pact including the formation of a competent Yemeni government to be seated in Aden. The alliance cited recent floods in Yemen amid fears of spread of the new coronavirus in the impoverished country.

While Yemen has confirmed so far a single COVID-19, aid groups fear a massive outbreak of the highly contagious ailment among a malnourished population in a country with a rickety health system.

The UN has been trying to revive peacemaking in Yemen to concentrate attention on the virus threat.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan Monday urged the Yemeni government and the STC to jointly work to implement the Riyadh pact to serve Yemenis’ interests.

'State of emergency'

“This requires the return of things to the situation before the Transitional Council’s declaration of the state of emergency,” he said in a Twitter post.

“We in KSA and the UAE strongly believe that the internationally backed Riyadh Agreement has guaranteed an opportunity for the brotherly Yemeni people to live in peace,” Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al Jubair tweeted in English. “We reject any hostilities that will jeopardize the safety and stability of Yemen,” he added.

Yemen has been in the grip of a ruinous war since late 2014 when Al Houthis toppled the internationally government and seized the capital Sana’a. Months later, the Arab military coalition intervened in Yemen in response to the government’s request.