Another devastating blow has been dealt to the imperialist coalition in Yemen, this time from the southern separatist movement. Formerly part of the tenuous alliance of groups under the Saudi-backed Hadi regime, almost a week ago the Southern Transitional Council (STC) issued an ultimatum to Hadi: either reshuffle the cabinet or they will abandon their alliance. The Hadi regime stubbornly refused, and violence erupted in the southern port city of Aden, the second largest city in Yemen and current de facto capital of the Hadi government. So far the STC has been able to capture most of the city, as well as the important city of Ataq, sabotaging any plans for a foray into northern Yemen by the imperialist-backed forces.
The Hadi regime had hoped to capitalize on the recent death of Saleh and the instability of the Houthi alliance in northern Yemen, but given their own critical instability and fleeting legitimacy, the regime is in no way prepared for a large offensive now, and must struggle to survive. Meanwhile, the imperialists have called for calm, and demanded that the STC and the Hadi regime immediately move to talks and a ceasefire, but it does not seem to have had any effect on the situation. The STC had had major successes in the first part of their campaign, and at this stage likely sees no reason to pursue talks with Hadi, whereas Hadi has little ground left to stand on.
But who are the STC, and what is their current relationship to the imperialist powers and to the Houthi government? The answers to these questions are critical to understanding the current situation. The STC is the broad coalition of southern separatist fighters which seek to restore the independence of South Yemen, which was forcefully integrated into Yemen by Saleh’s government in the 1990’s. Before then, South Yemen was an independent, socialist state ruled by the Yemeni Socialist Party. The southern movement as it stands today is less committed to any kind of socialist project so much as it is about the subjugation of its political autonomy since the Saleh regime brutally integrated the region into a unified Yemen.
Separatist movements participated in the popular uprising that overthrew Saleh, but were not unified into a single political or military body until very recently. It was in 2017 that the STC was formally founded from the disparate movements and organizations that made up the southern movement. Before then they had generally seen the civil war and the weakness of the Hadi regime as an opportunity to advance their interests toward autonomy, as the regime was pressed for friends and faced a complete ejection from the country. Since then, however, relations have cooled further and the STC has both the strength and political mind to pursue its own ambitions more seriously.
The Hadi regime was reluctant to take them seriously, as evidenced by their outright refusal to cooperate ahead of realistic threats of war, but is now reaping the consequences of that action. The STC’s motivations have been, throughout the war, entirely self-interested and motivated by independence. Their betrayal of Hadi does not necessarily represent any real anti-imperialist ambition, and we should be skeptical that one really exists. After all, they are backed by the UAE, and have had a history of reliance on the united $tates throughout the war in the south. What can be said, however, is that this fracture in the unity of the coalition is a definite opening for the Houthi government to either make gains or form a new alliance to replace the failed alliance with Saleh.
The imperialists have not given up yet, however, and their confused foreign policy in the region continues to take a human toll. The fighting that has erupted is expected to displace even more people, especially as Aden’s charity organizations are forced to close their doors during the fighting. In northern Yemen, the Saudis have tightened their blockade, and have shown an absolute callousness toward innocent people who are suffering from disease and starvation without vital medicine and food. For the people of Yemen, the current fracture in the imperialist camp will only prove beneficial if it can provide for a progressive end to the war and the defeat of u.$. imperialism. If not, it will remain yet another violent hiccup.
Down with the imperialist invaders!
Victory to the Yemeni People!