Yemen government takes control of city after separatist clashes

Yemeni fighters loyal to the government backed by the Arab coalition fighting in the country ride in the back of a pickup truck with mounted heavy machine gun. (AFP)
Updated 24 August 2019

Yemen government takes control of city after separatist clashes

  • Fighting between the troops and forces linked to the Southern Transitional Council (STC) broke out in Shabwa on Thursday night
  • At least 11 people have been killed

SANAA: Yemeni government troops took control Saturday of the city of Ataq, two days after deadly clashes between loyalists and southern separatists in the capital of Shabwa province, a pro-government source said.
Fighting between the troops and forces linked to the Southern Transitional Council (STC) broke out in Shabwa on Thursday night, in the latest such confrontation.
At least 11 people have been killed, medical sources told AFP.
Fighters from the Elite Forces, established in 2016 and striving for the independence of southern Yemen, "were forced to retreat after entering a number of government buildings" in Ataq, the source told AFP.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said the government troops took control of one of the Elite Forces' military camps.
"Fighting between the two sides has moved to the outskirts of the city," added the source.
The two have sent reinforcements to the area, the rival sides said on Saturday.
The flare-up in Shabwa comes after deadly clashes earlier this month between the government and troops from the so-called Security Belt, who are dominated by separatists seeking an independent south, erupted in Yemen's de-facto capital Aden.
The STC partially withdrew last week from key sites it occupied in Aden under pressure from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but it retains control of key military sites.
The STC has since driven government troops out of two military camps in Abyan province.
While the separatists have fought against the Houthis, STC forces want to see South Yemen regain the independence it gave up with unification in 1990.


Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

Updated 21 January 2020

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

  • Expert says sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in Libyan conflict unlikely

JEDDAH: With the conclusion of the Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Turkey is willing to implement the provisions of the final communique and stay out of the conflict.

Ankara is accused of sending Syrian fighters to the Libyan battlefront in support of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concerns over the arrival of Syrian and other foreign fighters in Tripoli, saying: “That must end.” 

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst at Oxford University, speculates that Turkey will not deploy more troops.  

But he told Arab News that a sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict is unlikely for the moment as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will remain present “until the GNA’s future is secured.”

Noting the difficulty of enforcing the Berlin agreement, Ramani said Turkey might not be the first mover in breaching a cease-fire in Libya.

But he added that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy forces and upend the agreement if Haftar makes any moves that it considers “provocative.”

The summit called for sanctions on those who violate the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.

Turkish opposition MPs recently criticized the expanded security pact between Ankara and the GNA, saying the dispatch of materials and equipment to Libya breaches the UN arms embargo.

Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.

Micha’el Tanchum, Analyst

The summit does not seem to have resolved ongoing disputes regarding the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline connecting eastern Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete.

The Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of being a “pirate state,” citing Ankara’s recent drilling off its coasts just a day after Brussels warned Turkey that its plans were illegal.

Erdogan dismissed the warning and threatened to send to the EU some 4 million refugees that Turkey is hosting.

Turkey dispatched its Yavuz drillship to the south of Cyprus on Sunday, based on claims deriving from the maritime delimitation agreement with the GNA.

Turkey’s insistence on gas exploration in the region may be subject to sanctions as early as this week, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based political analyst, drew attention to Article 25 of the Berlin final communique, which underlined the “Libyan Political Agreement as a viable framework for the political solution in Libya,” and called for the “establishment of a functioning presidency council and the formation of a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government approved by the House of Representatives.”

Sezer told Arab News: “Getting approval from Libya’s Haftar-allied House of Representatives would be a serious challenge for Ankara because Haftar recently considered all agreements with Turkey as a betrayal. This peace conference once more showed that Turkey should keep away from Libya.”

Many experts remain skeptical about the possible outcome of the summit. 

Micha’el Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, said: “Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.”