Fears of failure and cautious optimism. Almasdar Online surveys citizens in Aden on Riyadh agreement

Almasdar surveys Adenis on the Riyadh agreement

The signing of the Riyadh agreement between the internationally recognized government and the Southern Transitional Council is an important step towards ending the fighting, but trust in its effectiveness varies among the citizens of the interim capital city of Aden.Al-Masdar online has interviewed a number of Adeni residents to gauge their opinions on the Riyadh agreement. 

The agreement was signed by Dr. Salem al-Khanbashi on the government’s side, and  by Dr. Nasser al-Khabji,on the side of the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council Presidency.


Will Saudi Arabia succeed?

 Om Jalal, a teacher at an Adeni School said "We have high hopes that the agreement will stop the fighting. I’ve been following the progress of the agreement for a long time and was very happy to hear about its signing, hoping that this will stop the battles by giving a guarantee of full political inclusion to all parties and armed forces which should have been included originally." 

Um Jalal continued by saying “I think the agreement will succeed because Saudi Arabia will be putting pressure on the involved parties. This is clear in one of the agreements clauses that refers to the formation of a Saudi oversight committee to monitor the implementation of the agreement, and they wont want to risk their reputation by backing a failed deal."

Younis Ahmed, a student at the Faculty of Education at Aden University believes that "Saudi Arabia will do everything in its power to ensure its implementation and success, because the failure of the agreement necessarily means the failure of Saudi efforts to unite the Yemeni political and military forces against the Houthis, and this would be a major embarrassment for Saudi Arabia in front of world, because any renewed fighting in Aden and Abyan in the presence of Saudi Arabia will contribute to a possible setback for the coalition it leads in Yemen."  

He continued by adding: "Saudi Arabia faces a real challenge in their attempt to win the hearts and minds in the southern part of Yemen unless they succeed to take advantage of the mistakes of UAE in the south over the past four years. While if it repeats the same mistakes made by its ally and strengthens one party at the expense of another party, or empowers figures in the government or forces or a certain policy at the expense of other powers,they will provoke other parties, which may bring back the pre-fighting scene, albeit differently this time."

Abdulilah Abdullah, a young man who graduated six years ago from the Faculty of Education in Aden and now works in a real estate office north of the city, disagrees with what Younis says as he believed Saudi Arabia intentionally overlooked the UAE's role during its takeover of Aden. 

According to Abdulilah, the agreement will not last long: the guarantees for its implementation are not serious,and that Saudi Arabia wants to be in Aden to control the situation and weaken the government and the Southern Transitional Council. This seems clear as the agreement stipulates that all forces and brigades withdraw outside Aden and two brigades of the government and the Southern Transitional Council take on the task of securing the city. This would give them a stronger presence militarily and politically. Many may believe this will prevent clashes between the parties, but it will also prepare the arena for other forces opposing Saudi Arabia, the government and the Transitional Council.


Optimism for success

Walid Mohammed, a resident of Khormaksar district east of Aden works as a taxi driver, and thinks that the Riyadh agreement represents a step in the right direction to refocus on the true enemy of all Yemenis, referring to the Iranian-backed Houthi movement.

According to Muhammad, this agreement will be a major concern for the Houthis, which will contribute to their moral defeat before a the military one.

"The agreement is working to overcome the causes of the conflict and remove its effects by involving new forces active in the scene and containing them in the federal project,” says Walid. 

In his 70's, Hajj Salem Mohsen reads a television screen mounted on the wall of a popular café in Crater, as he lights a cigarette and explains  to Almasdar Online that "We want the agreement and we have to spread optimism about it, people are fed up with conflicts that always end with a political agreement, and in Aden in particular, people want a respectable government that results from this agreement."

"We don't want false revolutionary slogans and we don't need to burn tires again to demand water, electricity and salaries. .I think that the agreement will succeed because the victim of its failure will be Saudi Arabia because of many reasons. Frist, Saudis lead the coalition, and second it is now responsible for the situation in Aden, it will try to use all the means of pressure to make it work not for the south and Yemen, but because any other crisis in Aden will provide a Help to Houthis and weaken the efforts to fight them, which is a concern for Saudi Arabia."


Concerns of failure 

“The Riyadh agreement says that STC forces should be integrated into the defense and interior ministries, but there are no real guarantees.. This is also the case for the extent to which these forces can be integrated into the defense and security institutions and become official forces directly subordinate to the defense and interior ministers,"  said Wadhah Ali.

Wadhah also points out two outstanding problems, “If the Ministry of Defense or interior will be awarded to the Transitional Council, the minister will work for this entity, and in this case the merger will succeed because the minister can control the force and keep it with its previous regime. Even if it was in a different uniform,"

Wadhah adds: “If one of the ministries belongs to a minister from another party or force, the merger is expected to fail as it is supposed to be, because the UAE will probably help pro-STC security leader to maintain a force within the security establishment. However, another problem is the quota system. Dividing ministerial portfolios between ideologically different forces in the south on the one hand, and in the national level on the other, seems to be a factor and motive for some regional powers to move the conflict from the previous situation between a legitimate government and an opposing Southern Council to a wide-ranging conflict within the government”.


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