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Yemen government, separatists sign deal to end power struggle in south



Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and southern separatists signed an agreement  to end a power struggle in the south of Yemen that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince hailed as a step toward a wider political solution to end the multifaceted conflict.

The stand-off had opened a new front in the more than four-year-old war and fractured a Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthi movement that ousted the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from the capital, Sanaa, in the north in late 2014.

U.S. President Donald Trump praised the agreement on Twitter: “A very good start! Please all work hard to get a final deal.”

Riyadh has been trying to resolve the stand-off to refocus the coalition on fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi movement on its southern border.

Separatist forces, supported by Riyadh’s main coalition partner the United Arab Emirates, are part of the Sunni Muslim alliance that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 against the Houthis who hold Sanaa and most big urban centers.

The deal, calls for the formation of a new cabinet of no more than 24 ministers within 30 days that would have equal representation for northerners and southerners. STC would join any political talks to end the war.

Military and security forces from both sides, including tens of thousands of UAE-backed STC forces, would be placed under the defense and interior ministries.

United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths, who is trying to restart talks to end a war that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine, said the deal was an important step in peace efforts.

The ceremony was attended by the UAE’s de facto ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, along with Hadi and STC leader Aidarous al-Zubaidi.

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