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Riyadh Agreement: The start of a peace process or the beginning of a new war?

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At the beginning of November, warring parties from Yemen’s south reached a power-sharing deal which aimed not only to defuse tensions among Arab alliances in South Yemen but was also seen to as a step closer towards ending the war in the country.

The tensions between the Saudi-backed Hadi government and the UAE-backed southern separatists led by the Southern Transitional Council (STC) culminated in August, when southern secessionists seized control of the city of Aden, the internationally recognised government’s temporary capital. Frictions not only risked triggering a new conflict but also threatened to alienate two close Gulf allies, the Saudis and the Emiratis.

Although armed conflicts have mostly stopped, the situation remains uncertain and it would be naïve to think that the agreement will be easy to implement. Much will depend on how it is perceived by the two opposing camps and whether it will be understood as a win-win solution.

As the parties of the agreement have failed to meet the deadline to establish a power-sharing government many Yemenis wonder if the deal is realistic and achievable.

The Saudi brokered agreement ambitiously addresses a wide range of issues and aims to restructure political, economic, military and security relations between the STC and the government.

The newly negotiated government should be comprised of 24 ministers with an equal number of ministries allocated to STC and Hadi supporters.

While the deal legitimises the status of the STC, which has previously been excluded from all UN-brokered peace negotiations, and secured UAE influence through the STC, it is unsure whether such a model will really work in practice and whether or not the STC will comply with it, including Saudi supervision of the agreement.

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© Middle East Monitor