Renewed conflict is “imminent” in Abyan, STC says in letter to ambassadors, UN envoy
The UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) said in a letter on Friday to the international community that war with government forces in the southern governorate of Abyan is “imminent,” as tensions continue to rise and both sides mobilize in the governorate.
“Unfortunately, the outbreak of war is imminent, and we are genuinely moving away from the possibility of reaching a sustainable political agreement because of these moves and breaches by the government,” states the letter, which was sent by the STC to the Yemen ambassadors of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, in addition to the UN envoy to Yemen.
The letter notably bypasses the Saudi-led coalition, and in particular Saudi Arabia, which is overseeing the implementation of the stalled Riyadh Agreement.
In an effort to revive the agreement, this week a de-escalation committee formed of independent military and community figures and those from either side visited Abyan. The committee submitted a proposal to re-implement the military and security annexes of the agreement in Abyan, but the STC is demanding the withdrawal of a Presidential Protection Brigade unit from the town of Shaqra, on Abyan’s coast. The government has refused this precondition, a military source in the committee told Almasdar Online on Friday.
The de-escalation committee’s visit and proposal has thus far failed to quell the rising tensions in Abyan, and in the last several days local residents reported reinforcements have arrived in Abyan to bolster both sides. Amid the unravelling of the agreement, government and STC officials have traded blame over the other’s refusal to compromise.
Late Friday evening, military reinforcements of heavy and medium weapons arrived in Aden, coming from the town of Mocha on the west coast of Taiz governorate, in an apparent move to further bolster pro-STC troops based in close proximity to government forces. Prior to this, on Wednesday and Thursday local sources in Sheikh Salem area in eastern Zinjibar district of Abyan said that the UAE-backed forces sent reinforcements from Lahj governorate, including tanks, vehicles, cannons, heavy weapons and armed men to the eastern coastal areas of Abyan.
“The nature of recent moves by the Yemeni government, in coordination with pro-terrorism forces in the region, is to target the liberated southern governorates and seek to spread chaos and terrorism,” the STC’s letter claims, according to the separatist group’s official website. “These moves represent a public threat to the truce, the UN-led peace and stability efforts in the region, and an addition to the series of violations by the Yemeni government that have prevented the implementation of the Riyadh agreement.”