South Yemen Pull Out of UN-Backed Talks

South Yemen Pull Out of UN-Backed Talks
Sat Feb 28, 2015 19:34:18

Separatists from southern Yemen suspended their participation in UN-sponsored talks as nine soldiers were wounded Saturday in a clash with southern fighters.

The violence coincided with a drone strike that killed three suspected Al-Qaeda militants in southern Yemen, tribal sources said.

The attack targeted militants, who were traveling in two vehicles in the Bihan region of Yemen’s southern province of Shabwa on Saturday, a local security official said.

Several other suspected militants were wounded in Saturday’s drone strike, the official noted.

An official in the southern province of Lahij told AFP that southern fighters opened fire on an army convoy and three soldiers were wounded in a gunbattle.

Tensions in Yemen have soared since former Western-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled to Adeen and ask Ansarullah relinguish power till he take his duties.

Hadi escaped last week to Aden, where he has been reconsolidating his grip on power buoyed by support from Persian Gulf states which have relocated their embassies to the southern city.

Several countries, including Britain and the United States, closed their embassies in Sanaa over security fears following the Huthi takeover.

Hadi's escape to Aden has turned what was the capital of an independent south Yemen before unification in 1990 into a diplomatic hub.

Kuwait became the latest Persian Gulf nation to reopen its Yemeni embassy in Aden, instead of the militia-controlled capital, following similar moves by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

The Southern Movement, which seeks the secession of the regions of the formerly independent south, announced overnight Friday that it was pulling out of UN-brokered talks.

"We have suspended our participation in the (UN-backed) national dialogue until it is moved out of the country," Southern Movement member Yassin Mekkawi told AFP.

He said negotiators were facing mounting "political and psychological pressure".

UN envoy Jamal Benomar has been shuttling between Yemeni parties to secure an end to the country's political deadlock and to persuade them to return to the negotiating table in Sanaa.But there has been widespread disagreement on the venue.

Benomar met Hadi in Aden on Thursday and said the latter wanted the talks moved to a "safe place to which the parties should agree".

Saleh's party, however, insists the talks resume in Sanaa, warning of a boycott.

In September 2014, the Ansarullah fighters gained control of Sana’a after Yemeni political parties failed to put aside differences and fill the power vacuum.

A few months later, they dissolved the parliament and announced a constitutional declaration on the Transitional National Council, following weeks of clashes with government forces.

The Ansarullah revolutionaries say the Yemeni government has been incapable of properly running the affairs of the country and providing security.

The Ansarullah movement played a key role in the 2011 popular uprising that forced Dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit after 33 years in power.

Members of the Huthi movement and their allies attend a meeting in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on February 1, 2015

The Ansarullah or Huthis, who have long clashed with al-Qaeda descended from their power base in northern Yemen to seize Sanaa in September.

The Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is seen by the United States as the deadliest branch of the global extremist network.

AQAP took advantage of a 2011 uprising that forced veteran president Saleh from power to seize large swathes of the south and east.

On Saturday, three suspected Al-Qaeda militants were killed in a drone strike in the southern province of Shabwa, tribal sources said.

The United States is the only country operating drones in Yemen.

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