March 9-15: More talks about talks, militias clash in Aden

Local news coverage during the last week focused mainly on the appearance of the Defense Minister in the southern city of Aden—President Hadi’s provisional capital—and the tension brewing there between “Popular Committee” militias loyal to Hadi and the Special Security Forces (SSF), apparently loyal to the Houthis. Major General Saqqaf, the SSF Commander in Aden, refused an order issued by Hadi removing him from his command. Sporadic clashes erupted between the two sides over the past week as reinforcements were said to have been sent to this southern port city, the base of the secessionist movement known as Hirak, which calls for southern independence.

Meanwhile, the political parties in the Yemeni capital, Sanʻa, resumed UN-led negotiations after the Islah and Nasserite parties returned to dialogue table. However, both parties later rejected any discussion that challenged the legitimacy of Hadi’s presidency. The Islah party submitted an objection letter to UN envoy Jamal Benomar, and the Nasserite party reiterated that no talks will be held that undermine Hadi’s legitimacy as Yemen’s president.

While Saudi Arabia welcomed the plan to relocate the political talks to Riyadh, the GPC party and the Houthis refused this proposal. The GCC General Secretariat was reported to have said that talks in Riyadh will be different from those being held in Sanʻa. Benomar, who reportedly said that “Yemen is on the verge of a civil war,” declined to describe the would-be talks in Riyadh as an alternative to the ongoing talks in Sanʻa.

In Aden, President Hadi met with the US Ambassador for the second time, as well as other diplomatic envoys including ambassadors from Turkey and UAE. Hadi also met with his defense minister, Mahmoud al-Subaihi, who was reported to have fled house arrest in capital Sanʻa. His appearance in Aden, though, is still cloaked in mystery.