Riyadh: The Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) on Tuesday signed a power-sharing deal, ending their feud and refocusing efforts on fighting the Iran-allied Al Houthi militia.
Representatives from both sides signed the pact, officially called the Riyadh Agreement, at a palace in Riyadh in the presence of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Addressing the signing ceremony, Prince Mohammad said he hoped the accord will help re-establish stability in Yemen.
“The agreement could be a step towards ending the war in Yemen. It marks a new chapter in Yemen’s stability,” he said. “It will make Yemen immune against those who harbour evil [agenda] against it.”
He hailed the UAE’s role in reaching the pact, saying it has made “great sacrifices” as part of the Arab alliance fighting Al Houthis. The Yemeni government and the STC are partners of the military Arab coalition fighting in Yemen. .
In August, clashes erupted between Yemeni forces and STC members, triggering a rift in the anti-Al Houthi alliance.
Saudi Arabia hosted indirect talks between the two sides, resulting in the pact.
The deal includes forming a 24-strong government equally composed of representatives from Yemen’s southern and northern provinces, excluding Al Houthis. It also provides for the return of the government to the southern city of Aden, which the pro-STC forces took control from the government troops in August.
Aden became the seat of the Yemeni government after Al Houthi militiamen seized the capital Sana’a in a coup late 2014, plunging the impoverished country into a ruinous war.
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.
Prior to Tuesday’s signing, both sides pledged their commitment to the accord.
“We emphasise full partnership and cooperation with our brothers in the Saudi-led alliance [to support legitimacy] and to preserve the Arab identity of Yemen and abort foreign schemes,” Yemeni Information Minister Muammar Eryani said in a tweet.
STC deputy head Hani Ben Brek, meanwhile, called the deal a “victory“ for all sides.
“The Riyadh agreement is a victory for all of us: the Arab alliance led by Saudi Arabia, the southerners and their valiant people as well as the Yemeni government,” he tweeted.
“There is no one defeated in all these sides. Everyone won thanks to Saudi Arabia’s wisdom and its major backer: the UAE,” he added.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash also termed the pact signing as a “historic day”.