The cloth burns between Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. The Yemeni government on Friday (August 30th) has declared "false justifications" the statements of the United Arab Emirates, which it accuses of conducting air raids in support of separatists who are fighting the army in Aden, in the south of the country. Yemen at war.
On Friday, the UAE confirmed that it had conducted airstrikes against targets in Aden this week, but said it targeted "terrorist militias" and acted in "self-defense".
The UAE is one of the pillars of a Saudi-sponsored military coalition that has been supporting the Yemeni President and Government since 2015 against the Houthis who have captured vast areas of the country's north, including the capital Sanaa.
But since the beginning of August, a new front has opened up in the midst of this war: fighting between government forces and separatists seeking independence from southern Yemen has taken control of Aden.
The government has openly accused the UAE of helping them militarily, including air raids against its troops. Aden became the "provisional capital" of power after the Houthis seized Sanaa in 2014.
The separatists said Thursday they took Aden back to the loyalists who controlled it Wednesday. The separatists had conquered it for the first time on August 10th.
The Yemeni government, whose president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi lives in exile in Riyadh, on Friday rejected "the false justifications given by the United Arab Emirates to cover up their flagrant attacks against the national armed forces".
"The UAE's attempt to associate terrorism with the national army is simply a miserable attempt to conceal its flagrant and illegal targeting of the military," the government said in a statement.
Aden met two attacks on Friday, one of which, claimed by the Islamic State organization, claimed the lives of three separatist fighters. The second one made five wounded among the guards of a separatist military leader who survived.
The attack killed "members of the security cordon (...) in the explosion of a motorcycle bomb in the Saad district in Aden," said the propaganda agency of the group EI, referring to a force Yemeni separatist.
Separatist forces arrested several people in Aden after the attacks, security sources said, saying they wanted to dismantle "dormant cells" of jihadists.
Residents have reported arrests of soldiers loyal to the government. "The terrorism of Daesh and Al Qaeda is the other face of the government and its infiltrated institutions," responded the Southern Transitional Council (STC - separatist) in a statement.
"The fight against terrorism" was one of the causes cited by the separatists for taking control of Aden. They had previously accused the government of complicity in two attacks that left 49 dead on August 1 in their ranks.
Emirati diplomacy assures that among the government forces fighting the separatists in Aden, there are "elements belonging to terrorist groups" who have been targeted by Emirates raids.
Silence of Ryad
The Yemeni president also called on Riyadh to "intervene to stop the UAE's blatant interference, their support for militia (separatists) and their air raids against the Yemeni armed forces".
Speaking in Yemen against an increased influence of Iran, its regional rival, perceived as an ally of the Houthis, Saudi Arabia is currently watching an embarrassed silence over the clashes in Aden and facing this unprecedented dispute among members of the coalition she leads.
At the beginning of separatist-government violence, Riyadh proposed a dialogue between the two camps in the Saudi city of Jeddah. While the JTS was positive, the Hadi government demanded a withdrawal of separatists from the positions won in Aden and elsewhere in southern Yemen.
Emirati Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash on Friday defended such a dialogue. "It's a way out of the crisis," he said.