The port city of Aden was declared by Saudi-backed officials as the “interim” capital of Yemen, but they’ve lost control of it in fighting over the last several days, leaving the city under the control of southern separatists.
Aden is much more important to the separatists not because of its status as seat of the would-be government, but as the long-time capital of the former country of South Yemen, which they intend to re-create.
This began last week with protesters loyal to the separatists seizing the presidential palace. Over the weekend, after clashes at the palace, separatist forces moved against military camps across the city. The government cried coup, but either way they lost the city.
This likely spells the end of the alliance of the two largest factions in pro-Saudi Yemen, with the separatists having previously giving tacit support to the invasion to reclaim the country from the northerners. But the separatists always made clear that in the end they wanted their own country, and may have just come a step closer to making that happen.
Report from three days ago when the fighting had just started when the separatists clashed with the Presidential Guard of the Saudi-backed Quislings:
Forces loyal to the southern separatist movement in South Yemen and the Saudi-backed government continued to do battle in the southern capital of Aden on Thursday, mostly focused on control of the presidential palace in the city. At least one more person was killed.
Wednesday saw protesters from the separatist movement march in and seize the palace. The protesters had attended the funerals of pro-separatist fighters, where leaders accused the government of backing Islamists to attack them.
So far the fighting seems confined to Aden. The government’s officials are accusing separatist leaders of “fomenting sedition,” saying separatists must ignore the calls to battle of their leadership.
This could quickly be a big war, as the separatists are backed by the United Arab Emirates, and the UAE have substantial other allies in Yemen, while Saudi Arabia backs the Aden-based government and has forces loyal to them around the country’s south as well.