The Yemeni government delayed signing a power-sharing deal with the Southern Transitional Council (STC) as fighting resumed in the southern province of Abyan on Thursday, leaving six people killed.
According to a source of Yemen’s government, “it was scheduled to publicly sign the power-sharing deal between representatives of two sides in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh today” but delayed due to the developments on ground.
He said on condition of anonymity that “intense clashes erupted between the STC’s military units and the government forces in Ahwar district of Abyan province.”
The government forces managed to capture Ahwar from the STC’s military units following several hours of intense armed confrontations, the source said.
He added that the STC’s military units withdrew from Ahwar district as a number of military checkpoints belonging to the government forces were set up there.
Medical sources based in Abyan confirmed to our reporters that at least six soldiers from both sides were killed in the armed confrontations.
An officer of the STC’s military units said that “government forces used around 25 military vehicles in the attack that targeted our military locations in Ahwar.”
He said anonymously that the armed confrontations expanded in the area as local tribesmen gathered and joined the fighting with the STC against the government forces in Abyan’s southeastern parts.
Another official of the STC’s negotiating team in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh said that “the government apparently does not like to sign the deal with the STC leaders and resorted to military escalation in Abyan.”
The Saudi-based Yemeni official said that “the military escalation may lead to serious consequences as it coincided with signing the deal under the auspices of Saudi Arabia.”
Last week, the Yemeni government initially signed the first draft of a deal that includes forming a power-sharing government with the STC following several weeks of indirect talks between the two sides in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah.
The deal also stipulated that the power-sharing government will operate from the southern port city of Aden, the country’s interim capital, and exercise all its tasks in serving the people from there.
In August, the STC seized control of the strategic southern port city of Aden and neighboring provinces following days of fighting with the government forces.
The STC is part of the Saudi-led Arab coalition to fight Iran-backed Houthi militias in northern Yemen.
The impoverished Arab country has been locked in a civil war since late 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country and seized all northern areas including the capital Sanaa.