Redeployment Coordination Committee Chairman Lt Gen. (Ret) Abhijit Guha said: “There has been significant progress, but challenges remain, including periodic violence that undermines the spirit of the hodeidah agreement.” Although nominal allies in a Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Houthi rebels, the rivalry between the two sides had opened up a major new front in Yemen`s multifaceted conflict, in what some observers described as a “civil war within a civil war.” While this approach allows the parties to achieve the political results they achieved when the agreement was signed, the proof will once again be that they can overcome the major obstacles to implementation. The most recent plan focuses on sequencing, a crucial detail that is lacking in the original agreement. It also offers immediate political benefits – perhaps Riyadh`s way of encouraging parties to take on the most difficult task of regaining their strength. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the secessionist objectives of the STC will dissolve – indeed, the Council can hope that membership in Hadi`s government will give it sufficient legitimacy to pursue an offer of secession along the way. The STC`s official statement on the reactivated agreement confirms that the Council will not withdraw from its ultimate state objective. The leaders of the STC – who are supported in some parts of the South but are not universally attracted to the population – see secession as a long-term goal, better achieved by a political process than by a unilateral declaration. In this sense (and probably to dispel any discontent among hardline secessionists), an STC official tweeted after announcing that the re-establishment of a southern state required “patience and self-limitation.” The Riyadh Agreement has suffered many setbacks and has never been implemented, but Saudi Arabia made another breakthrough in July to drive the process. When the initial agreement was signed in November, observers feared that its vague language would complicate implementation, and these fears were quickly identified.
The process stopped at the end of 2019 and until 2020, with the STC withdrawing from the enforcement committees in January. Subsequently, the Hadi government banned a delegation of STC officials from returning to Aden in March and the STC returned the favour by blocking the return of Hadi`s Prime Minister, Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed. STC Vice-President Hani Ben Brik said on Twitter that the suspension of negotiations by the STC was necessary to protest against the “irresponsible behaviour of the parties” towards the Riyadh agreement.