Saudi officials are pressuring the government to implement the Riyadh Agreement's political annex in exchange for assurances that the military annex will soon follow
Saudi Arabia considers STC proposal to restart Riyadh Agreement
During meetings with senior Saudi officials last week discussing how to break the deadlock over the Riyadh Agreement, UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) Aidarous Al-Zubaidi reiterated what the group has demanded all along: implement the agreement’s political annex before its military annex. The internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi rejected the proposal, as it has in the past.
While the positions of the Yemeni parties remain unchanged, Saudi officials appear to be entertaining the STC proposal, an official involved in the consultations told Almasdar Online. Riyadh has exerted pressure on the government to start implementing the political annex in exchange for assurances from the STC that the military annex should be implemented directly afterward, the source said.
In early May, Almasdar Online reported that Saudi Arabia was preparing to modify the Riyadh Agreement to address these sequencing issues.
Created in response to the STC’s political and military power grab in the interim capital Aden and surrounding governorates in August 2019, the Riyadh Agreement has been stalled since its signing in early November.
The agreement’s political annex calls for the formation of a power-sharing government in Aden with equal representation from the north and the south, the appointment of governors and security directors for Aden and other southern governorates, and the implementation of various economic reforms, among other steps. The military annex includes the redeployment of forces from both sides to their pre-August positions, the STC’s relinquishment of heavy and medium-sized weapons taken from government forces, and formation of a unified command structure.
Hadi’s government argues that the implementation of the political annex before the military annex will give the STC the legitimacy to maintain its current military and security operations outside the control of the Ministry of Defense and the Interior Ministry, the source said. The STC, for its part, fears that the government will gain the upper hand if the military annex is carried out first and that could imperil implementation of the political annex. A particular point of anxiety from the STC’s perspective is that the military annex puts the pro-government Presidential Protection Brigades in charge of securing key institutions including the presidential palace in Aden.
Edited by Casey Coombs