Yemen's Eastern Provinces Confront Southern Separatists' Agenda

Sheba Intelligence | 2024-01-10 08:12 AM UTC


The Preparatory Committee for the Unified Council of the Eastern Governorates (UCEP) (Hadhramaut, Shabwa, Al-Mahra, and Socotra) was announced Tuesday in Sayun City, consisting of 47 individuals. It is a move aimed at establishing self-rule without the influence of powers from South Yemen or North.


Establishing the new entity is a fresh blow to the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), a separatist body with a strong presence in Aden, Lahj, Dhale, and Abyan. The leadership of the STC has been posing as the representative of the southern and eastern provinces over the past seven years.


With the declaration of the Unified Council of the Eastern Governorates, the STC faces a formidable challenge, as the formation of this new Council in the eastern provinces may shatter the separatists' ambition of ruling the entire southern and eastern provinces.


 The eastern provinces make up nearly 65% of Yemen's geography, and the two provinces, Hadramout and Shabwah, are rich in oil.



On Tuesday, Abdulhadi Altamimi, Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Unified Council of the Eastern Governorates, said the former state in South Yemen brought multiple forms of misery to the population of the eastern provinces.


Altamimi said, "Despite the participation of the residents of these provinces in the establishment of the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, the central system after independence in 1967 has caused these provinces to suffer the most in various fields. The worst of these was the erasure of their identity and culture, the persecution of their leaders, scholars, and businessmen, the confiscation of their properties and rights, and the elimination of their distinctive culture."


He indicated that the eastern provinces are tired of being under the guardianship and subordination of traditional centers of influence in the south and north.


Altamimi also commended the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman and their support for the population's struggle in the eastern provinces of Yemen.


Regarding the vision of the Unified Council for Eastern Governorates, he said it aims to unify efforts in the four provinces, eliminate disputes and differences, and unify the populations against centers of influence that seek to control their capabilities and deprive them of their decision-making.


Altamimi pointed out that the new Council communicates with Yemen's UN-recognized government, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the regional neighbors, and the international community, especially with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman.


 In June last year, the Hadramoutt National Council (HNC) was established with support from Saudi Arabia. That political entity aimed to tackle the province's challenges, establish a united political vision, and confront the expansion of the STC.


While political entities keep emerging in south Yemen to confront the STC, regionalism threatens the unity of the separatist groups.


In November last year, Sheba Intelligence obtained audio recordings revealing the escalation of regional discourse among the members of the STC, which makes residents in the southern provinces recall the civil war between two factions within the Socialist Party in January 1986, in which thousands were killed.


Rifts between southern separatist factions in Aden have augmented over the past few months, and the separatist fighters have repeatedly opened fire on each other. Last month, two secessionist factions in Al-Sheikh Othman district of Aden clashed, leaving four civilians injured.


The STC has grown powerful over the past six years. However, the internal disputes keep rising, and opposition in South Yemen is growing. Yemeni political observers say that such factors may lead to the dismantling of the STC.