Peter Salisbury, Crisis Group`s senior analyst for Yemen, notes that the agreement does everything it can to prevent the central political dispute between the STC and the government. As such, “it is widely seen as an emergency solution to avoid civil war during a war and improve the government`s credibility as an actor in the UN-led peace talks,” he told MEMO. He assumes that the incentive to the STC is a place of discussion where he can formulate his request for independence from the south. The Riyadh agreement came at a time when the fabric of a “liberated South,” which has never been very strong, has been torn apart by quarrels between forces trained and supported by the UAE and those hosted and financed by Saudi Arabia. The fighting has strongly shown that there are serious disagreements between the two Arab coalition partners – The ceasefire between Yemeni Houthi rebels and forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in the port city of Hodeidah, went into effect on December 18. The agreement was reached during UN mediation talks in Stockholm earlier this month. At the time of the negotiations, the city was almost in the hands of the Saudi-led coalition. The coalition had blocked the port, Yemen`s main humanitarian aid channel, for months, and fighters, mostly soldiers from the United Arab Emirates, were battling the rebels. Pressure from the UAE to limit the participation of prominent members of the current Yemeni government in the single cabinet provided for in the agreement2, due to its anti-Emirati positions.3 It should also be noted that the agreement makes no reference to Hadi, his deputy general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar or other members of the government (with the exception of the current prime minister) returning to the capital. This raises several questions about what exactly a unity government means if neither the president nor the vice president can return to the temporary capital. Although most armed conflicts have ceased, the situation remains uncertain and it would be naïve to believe that the agreement will be easy to implement. Much will depend on how it is perceived by both opposing sides and whether it is understood as a win-win solution. In its response, the STC Presidential Committee said that once their security forces are integrated into the Yemeni government`s armed forces, as stipulated in the Riyadh agreement, the STC will ensure that the security forces protect human rights and prevent violations.
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