Draft Saudi-brokered deal aims to end south Yemen power struggle

Preliminary deal between Yemen government and southern separatists would bring separatists into a new cabinet.

Vans drive past a billboard with posters of (L-R) Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Yemen''s President Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zaid, in Aden
Vans drive past a billboard with posters of (L-R) Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Yemen's President Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and President of the United Arab Emirates Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in Yemen's Aden [File: Fawaz Salman/Reuters]

An initial agreement between Yemen’s southern separatists and the internationally backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, designed to end a power struggle in the country’s south, would see  the separatists included in a new cabinet, according to a draft of the deal obtained by Al Jazeera.

The Saudi-brokered deal includes arrangements for a system of power that involves both Hadi’s government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC), whose forces have been at loggerheads in Aden for months.

The draft agreement, expected to be announced in the coming days, followed weeks of negotiations hosted by Saudi Arabia.

Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Eryani said on Saturday that the agreement would be signed within two days.

Formed in 2017 with backing from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the STC is a Yemeni group that joined the Saudi-led military alliance, which first intervened in Yemen in March 2015  to restore Hadi’s government, shortly after it was removed from Sanaa by Houthi rebels.

In August, the UAE-backed separatist movement, which seeks self-rule in south Yemen, turned on Hadi’s government as its forces seized their interim seat of Aden.

Riyadh has sought to refocus the coalition on fighting the Houthis on its border, who have repeatedly launched missiles and drone attacks on Saudi cities during the conflict.

The kingdom has in recent weeks increased its military presence in southern Yemen, bringing in additional troops, armoured vehicles, tanks and other military equipment.


It took control of Aden earlier this month after the UAE withdrew some of its forces from the city.

Key points both parties must adhere to upon signing the draft agreement:

  • Activation of the role of Yemeni state institutions in accordance with the political and economic arrangements set out in the agreement.

  • Restructuring of the country’s military forces under the command of the ministry of defence in accordance with the military arrangements set out in the agreement.

  • Restructuring of the country’s security forces under the leadership of the ministry of interior in accordance with the security arrangements set out in the agreement.

  • Upholding the Yemeni people’s rights by rejecting and shedding regional and sectarian divisions among all segments of society.

  • Termination of the media war in all its forms between the two sides.

  • Uniting efforts under the leadership of the Saudi-led coalition to end the hostilities committed by the Houthis and confront al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS).

  • Forming a committee under the supervision of the coalition to follow up and implement the provisions of the agreement and its addendums.

  • Involving the STC in government negotiations over a final political solution to end the Houthi takeover.

Political and economic arrangements stipulated in the draft agreement:

  • The formation of a government comprising a maximum of 24 ministers, to be appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister. Southerners are to be given 50 percent of ministerial roles within a period of 45 days from the signing of the agreement, provided they did not engage in any acts of killing or other hostilities during battles in Aden, Abin, and Shabwah.

  • Members of the government shall take their oath before the president the day after the cabinet is formed in Aden.

  • The president shall appoint a governor and a security director for Aden governorate within 15 days of the signing of the agreement.

  • The prime minister of the current government shall complete all the duties set out in the draft agreement within seven days of it being signed. He shall activate all state institutions in various liberated governorates and work to pay salaries and financial dues to employees of the military, security and civil sectors.

  • The president shall appoint governors and security directors in the rest of the southern governorates within 60 days of the agreement being signed.

  • State resources are to be managed to ensure that all state revenues – including oil, tax and customs revenues – are collected and deposited in the Central Bank of Aden.

Military arrangements included in the draft agreement:

  • All forces that have moved from their main positions and camps towards Aden, Abyan and Shabwa since August shall return to along with their weapons within 15 days of the agreement being signed.

  • During the same period (15 days), all medium and heavy weapons from all forces and camps in Aden will be transferred to camps designated and supervised by the coalition command.

  • The transitional council and government forces are to be united, merged with the ministry of defence under the direct supervision of the coalition, within 60 days of the agreement’s enactment.

Source: Al Jazeera