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2019 Riyadh Agreement

(Beirut) – A new agreement between the Yemeni government and the security forces of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) in Yemen does not address serious human rights issues, Human Rights Watch said today. In the months leading up to the signing of the agreement in Riyadh on November 5, 2019, STC forces arbitrarily arrested and forcibly disappeared at least 40 people, including a child, in the southern governorate of Aden. At least 15 of these people were released in September after 2 weeks or more of detention. 4. Inactive revenue streams: Reactivating inactive revenue streams, including ports and oil and gas facilities, is equally important. Since 2015, EMIRATI forces have been using Shabwa`s belhaf gas plant as a military base, blocking the government`s access to this important source of revenue. This infrastructure project, the largest in Yemen, had previously contributed to the public budget estimated at $1 billion a year before 2015. Therefore, the Maeen government has a responsibility to heed the Shabwa governor`s call to expel the small contingent of Emirati forces and pro-STC militias. In the event of reactivation, Belhaf would significantly increase government revenues, which would allow the government to solve several problems, such as. B wage payments, currency circulation, stabilization of the Yemeni riyal and the continuation of a recovery programme.

The latest UN report, which concludes that the Houthis raised at least $1.8 billion in 2019 to fund their war effort, further reveals how the coalition deliberately or unintentionally undermined the government`s internal ability to generate and collect revenue. “The Riyadh agreement does not address the persistent problem of Yemeni security forces mistreating residents with impunity,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The parties to the agreement must begin to restore trust, which has all but disappeared due to abuses by these security agencies.” These provisions govern the second point of the agreement. The forces, which have advanced towards Aden, Abyan and Shabwa since the beginning of August 2019, will resume their initial positions within fifteen days of signing and take their place with local security forces. During the same period, military and security forces stationed in the city of Aden will be disarmed and deployed outside the city under the supervision and according to the timetables set by the coalition. All government and STC forces in Aden governorate will be transferred to camps outside the governorate in accordance with the directives of the coalition command. The only exception is the First Presidential Protection Brigade, which will continue to protect presidential palaces and their surroundings and ensure the safety of the president`s traffic. Similar protection is granted to STC leaders under coalition supervision. The STC also won an important political victory by consolidating the military defeat it inflicted on government forces in the first round of clashes in August 2019 by ensuring control of three provinces (Aden, Lahj and Dhalea).

The STC is now a full partner of the Hadi government and is recognized by the agreement and its sponsors as the strongest of the political entities in the South. The agreement in this sense is a qualitative change for the STC, whether it ultimately envisages seceding or leading the South as a fully autonomous region as part of a comprehensive political solution. The Riyadh agreement stipulates that the STC security forces supported by the UAE will be integrated into the Ministries of Interior and Defense, which will eventually be under the authority of the internationally recognized Yemeni government. This process is expected to be completed within 30 days of the signing of the agreement on 5 November. At the time of writing, there was no clear progress toward this requirement for agreement. In response to these clashes, Saudi officials have been negotiating since late May to roll back the Riyadh deal. The resulting plan is not a new agreement, but a mechanism to facilitate and sequence the initial implementation of the original agreement. With the Saudi authorities solely responsible for the coalition`s involvement in Yemen, they have called for negotiations to resolve the crisis between WRI and stc, as two main national members of the anti-Houthi coalition. The indirect meetings began in Jeddah within a few days.

For Saudi Arabia, maintaining unity within the coalition and the official government was essential to maintaining its credibility as a power broker in Yemen. In the weeks that followed, although the UAE expressed support for Saudi Arabia`s efforts, it did not prevent its STC allies from confronting WRI fighters on the ground. And in late August 2019, the UAE carried out airstrikes against WRI forces in and around Aden in support of its STC clients, forcing WRI to call on the Saudis to prevent such attacks. With the formation of the power-sharing government, the STC gained political recognition without fulfilling its military and security commitments or abandoning its stated goals, including secession. .