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What is going on in South Yemen?

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The devastating war raging in Yemen for the past three years is on the verge of entering another, even deadlier, stage.

On Sunday, forces loyal to the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, backed by Saudi Arabia, exchanged fire in the southern Yemeni city of Aden with an armed group aligned with the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a secession movement supported by the United Arab Emirates.

Both sides in this conflict have been fighting alongside the Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels for the past few years now.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Hadi's prime minister, Ahmed bin Dagher, accused the STC of staging a "coup". In the past few months, tensions have been growing between the Yemeni government, based in Aden, and the STC, as the latter became more vocal about its secessionist ambitions.

This latest turn of events could not only exacerbate the ongoing conflict in Yemen, leading to more destruction and loss of civilian lives but could also threaten the territorial integrity of the country.

The growing secessionist sentiments in southern Yemen are a product of its distinct historical path as much as the current geopolitical situation in the region.

Aden was the only British colony in the entire Arabian Peninsula administered directly by the British government between 1839 and 1967. The British set up their own administrative, trade and educational institutions in the colony. The city was truly a cultural melting pot for many ethnic groups including people of Indian and Somali origins.

After the withdrawal of British troops in 1967, Aden joined the rest of the British protectorates in the south to form the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, with the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) eventually taking........

© Al Jazeera