CAIRO - The Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates met in Mecca Monday with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman over the latest developments in Yemen. Yemen's southern separatists have seized control of the southern capital, Aden, from the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi, but say they will continue to work with the Saudi-led coalition.
Arab media showed the UAE's Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Zayed meeting with the Saudi King as the Crown Prince looked on. The visit coincided with the capture of government buildings in the southern Yemeni capital, Aden, by the country's southern separatists in recent days.
The separatists have reportedly agreed to attend a meeting in Saudi Arabia to iron out their differences with the Saudi-led coalition and Yemen's internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi. Separatist leader Aidarous al-Zubaidi indicated in a speech Sunday that his forces would continue to cooperate with the coalition.
He says that his side is ready to behave as a faithful and reliable ally and to act on the ground with total transparency, insisting that his men will respect the cease-fire that the Saudi coalition has called for.
Southern separatist militia commander Mokhtar al-Nubi indicated that his forces were just about finished mopping up, after taking control of most of Aden, including the presidential palace, from President Hadi's forces.
He says that his forces have won a major victory in the (southern) capital Aden and that a number of divisions (loyal to the separatists) have just about accomplished the task of taking full control of the region.
Interior Minister Ahmed al-Mayssari admitted that his forces had been defeated by the southern separatists, claiming that the UAE had given their militiamen sufficient arms to capture Aden.
He says that he is admitting defeat, but claims that this will not be the last battle. He says with irony that he thanks his opponents for robbing and destroying houses and vehicles of Hadi's forces, and claims that the separatists are behaving just like the Houthis in the north of the country. He claims that the recent battle was foisted on his forces by the UAE, which heavily armed the separatists.
Yemen's former ambassador to Syria, Abdel Wahab Tawwaf, told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV that "the UAE has armed militias loyal to the Hadi government to retake territory from the Houthis [in the north], but have also armed the southern separatists, bringing about the situation we are now facing." "The separatists," he says, " have captured the institutions of state in the south and are attacking all of their opponents."
Gulf analyst Theodore Karasik tells VOA that the separatists' latest actions are "meant to force a negotiation to occur in Riyadh about the future of Yemen." He stresses that part of that discussion will be "about whether it is useful to split the country in order to settle specific issues." Arab media outlets with ties to Qatar, long at loggerheads with both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, claim that ties between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have been strained over the latest developments in Yemen, but Karasik disputes the claim.