THE Saudi-led invasion coalition in Yemen faced a major rift yesterday after the sacked governor of Aden declared a separatist government.
Major General Aidarous alZubaidi announced the formation of a new “transitional political council of the south.”
Gen Zubaidi was sacked by the Saudi-based government-in-waiting of former president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi last week after a rally of secessionists.
The new council, declared by Gen Zubaidi at a speech in Aden, consists of 27 southern leaders including former Hadi cabinet minister Hani Bin Braik.
Both men are backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — the other major member of the nine-nation coalition — and were sacked by Mr Hadi last week.
At last week’s rally in Aden, thousands of southern separatists rallied in Gen Zubaidi’s defence, issuing a statement they said authorised him to form a political entity to represent southern Yemenis.
The demonstrators declared the ex-governor’s followers “legitimate representative of the people of the south” on regional and international levels.
While nominally allies against the Houthi-clan backed National Salvation Government in the capital Sanaa, the Saudis and Emiratis have opposed aims.
The UAE backs a breakaway state with Aden as its capital, while Riyadh wants to impose the Hadi regime on the entire nation.
Regional experts say a proxy war is raging between Saudi-backed al-Qaida and Emirati-backed forces.
Meanwhile British Foreign Secretary Michael Fallon claimed Saudi Arabia was “defending itself” by its two-year bombing campaign that has slaughtered thousands of Yemeni civilians.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme yesterday morning, Mr Fallon said: “Saudi Arabia is being attacked by Houthi rebels across its southern border with Yemen.
“It’s had its towns and villages shelled by the Houthis,” he said. “Saudi Arabia is fully entitled to defend itself and it’s fully entitled to call on its friends in so doing.”
The Tory government has drawn flak for its continued arms sales to Riyadh.
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