STC Confronts Al-Qaeda Threat in Yemen’s South: Eight Soldiers Killed in Recent Attacks
Eight soldiers affiliated with the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a separatist group in Yemen striving for the independence of the southern region, were recently killed in suspected Al-Qaeda attacks. The STC is actively combating Al-Qaeda elements that have established a foothold in the southern region of Yemen. These attacks came on the heels of operations carried out by the UAE-backed Security Belt force in the Abyan province, a region where separatist forces have been persistently targeted.
Incidents of Attack
The first attack happened when soldiers were patrolling the Mudiyah district, a known hotspot for extremist activity. STC’s military spokesman, Muhammad Al-Naqib, claimed that the terrorist elements were being facilitated by parties linked to the Houthi group. This group is suspected of planting explosive devices in several areas of Abyan. Earlier the same day, an explosive device targeted an ambulance in Al-Musaina, resulting in the death of four soldiers from the Shabwa Defense Forces, another group affiliated with the STC.
Over the past year, there have been numerous violent clashes between the STC and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Qaeda attacks have increased in frequency in the south, and the group has continually targeted forces aligned with the STC. In August 2022, the Security Belt launched a military operation to drive out the extremist group, leading to dozens of fatalities and injuries among soldiers and militants.
Roots of the Conflict
The current war in Yemen began when the internationally recognized government was forced to flee to the south after Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized Sanaa, the capital, and most of northern Yemen in 2014. This conflict has precipitated one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with hundreds of thousands killed and significant parts of the country left in ruins.
Failed Ceasefire and Continuing Crisis
Tensions in Yemen briefly eased, and the humanitarian situation improved following a UN-mediated ceasefire in 2022. However, the combatants failed to renew the deal after six months, causing a resurgence in hostilities and worsened conditions. The ongoing conflict has displaced over four million people and given rise to cholera outbreaks, medicine shortages, and threats of famine.
International Involvement and Regional Implications
Yemen’s conflict has drawn in various regional powers, notably Iran and Saudi Arabia, turning it into a broader proxy struggle along the Sunni-Shia divide. It has also led to the militarization of Yemen’s waters, drawing the attention of the US Navy, which continues to seize Yemen-bound Iranian weapons.
Yemen’s ongoing conflict has inflicted a heavy toll on its civilian population, making it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The UN estimates that 60 percent of the estimated 377,000 deaths in Yemen between 2015 and the beginning of 2022 were the result of indirect causes like food insecurity and lack of accessible health services. Nearly 74 percent, or 25 million Yemenis, remain in need of assistance, and five million are at risk of famine.
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