Yemen‘s Saudi-backed government and southern separatists signed an agreement on Tuesday to end a power struggle in the south of Yemen that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince hailed as a step towards a wider political solution to end the multi-faceted conflict.
The standoff had opened a new front in the more than four-year-old war and fractured a Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthi movement that ousted the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from power in the capital, Sanaa, in the north in late 2014.
No details were given but sources familiar with the talks hosted by Saudi Arabia for over a month had said the deal calls for a government reshuffle to include the separatists’ Southern Transitional Council (STC) and placing tens of thousands of its troops under government control.
Hadi met with leaders from the STC in Saudi Arabia ahead of the signing on Monday .
Separatist forces, supported by Riyadh’s main coalition partner the United Arab Emirates, are part of the Sunni Muslim alliance that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 against the Iran-aligned Houthis who control Sanaa and most urban centres.
But the STC, which seeks self-rule in the south and a say in Yemen’s future, turned on Hadi’s government in August, seizing its interim seat in the southern port of Aden and trying to extend its reach in the south.
Residents of the Southern city of Aiden welcomed the agreement, saying that they hope it will put an end to the fighting and pave the way for a complete peace agreement in the future.