Saudi Arabia Appeases the “Southern Transitional Council”: Shabwa…The Destination of the Next Struggle
Translated by Staff, Al-Akhbar
It seems that Shabwa governorate will be the next destination of the power struggle, with its actors racing to enhance their presence there, hoping for future earnings that would compensate their expected casualties in Marib. While Saudi Arabia is reconnecting what has been ruptured with the Southern Transitional Council, the United Arab Emirates is showing new cards against the Islah Party that is practically controlling Shabwa.
The withdrawal of militias allied with the Saudi-Emirati coalition from large areas in the western coast opens the door for dramatic updates in other areas, especially in Shabwa governorate that seems to be the next destination of the dispute. This is because the foreign parties pursuing this area’s oil resources will seek to enhance their shares there depending on their local agents. But given the failure of the Saudi bet on the outgoing Yemeni president Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi –whose term made the Muslim Brotherhood in control of Shabwa – Saudi Arabia seems to rearrange the cards of its allies seeking to reconnect links with the so-called Southern Transitional Council which has great incentive to take over the aforementioned governorate as it can be an important resource that provides for the general budget.
In this context, the invitation of the head of the “Southern Transitional Council” Aidarous Al-Zoubeidi to Saudi Arabia is understood as a step in revising the confrontation strategy and amending the list of priorities, especially after Sanaa forces took over three districts in Shabwa, in parallel with their imminent control of Marib. The “Southern Transitional Council” is aware of such a fact, especially regarding the “erosion of areas of control and capabilities” of the Hadi government as opposed to the Sanaa government. Therefore, the so-called Council considered the invitation of Al-Zoubeidi to Riyadh as a “diplomatic development” that paves the way for changing the next political map, and an indicator that the “southern issue” is now on the Saudi table.
For its part, the UAE slipped a new card out of its sleeve, after it has failed in holding back together the “Shabwani Elite” allied with it, and sent Sheikh Awad Bin Mohammad Al-Wazir [a current parliamentarian on behalf of the “Popular Congress Party” branch of Abu Dhabi and a descendant of the former sultans of Shabwa, he lived in Abu Dhabi] to Nisab District in which he had arrived two weeks ago, in an attempt to rectify the stance and direct it in the interest of Abu Dhabi. For this purpose, Al-Awlaki held a big tribal meeting in Nisab District, after this meeting was promoted as a “landmark” in the history as well as the future of the region, aiming at “bringing Shabwa together”. Some of the highlights of the meeting were: calling on the dismiss of the mayor of Shabwa, Mohammad Saleh Bin Adio affiliated with the Islah Party, and stressing that “the governorate should take its share from everything”, and that was welcomed by the “Southern Transitional Council” but denounced by the councilor of the Media minister in Hadi’s government, Mokhtar Al-Rahbi, who described Al-Wazir as “a new tool used by the UAE to undermine the state and the local authority”. He also said that Abu Dhabi has used “cheap tools to topple the governorate of Shabwa and the security leaderships to stay in it and hand it over to its militias”. The former minister of transportation, Saleh Al-Jabwani, had sent a letter to Al-Wazir warning him from “any conflict in Shabwa that would open the way for Sanaa forces to enter”, while Bin Adio accused the UAE of not keeping its promise of handing over Belhaf facility. Bin Adio also pointed out that “90,000 mercenaries – who support the UAE – all over Yemen are receiving wages”, describing these militias as “parallel entities that have engaged more than once in wars, conflicts, and attacks, as well as carried out assassinations against the legitimate forces”.
It’s worth mentioning that the UAE had previously withdrawn from the “flag camp” close to Ataq city – the center of the governorate – and it was also expected to withdraw from Belhaf facility according to a Saudi-sponsored settlement with the authorities of Hadi, which withdrew from its sole camp in Ataq airport. In the meantime, it was said that “the Giants Brigades” which had been withdrawn from the south of Hudaydah will be redeployed in Shabwa, updates are anticipated in this governorate for what the coming days will bring, amid focused attention to the oil and gas resources controlled by American and French companies.