The Arabic-language al-Arabi al-Jadid newspaper reported on Sunday that the Southern Transitional Council (STC) fighters have staged “a full-fledged coup” in the strategic island of Socotra.
By the end of Saturday, the separatist group, which is backed by the UAE had taken control of most of the remote province from forces loyal to fugitive President Mansour Hadi, declaring autonomy in those regions.
“It is not unlikely that Saudi Arabia is the side which has persuaded the STC into intensified measures to expand the areas under its control by declaring autonomy in all provinces of Southern Yemen,” al-Arabi al-Jadid wrote.
It added that Saudi Arabia has also provoked the STC into organizing rallies against the government in certain provinces, including al-Mahrah and al-Shabwah.
Officials have said that the secessionist STC also arrested several military personnel and civilians opposed to the presence of UAE-funded militias on Socotra.
The STC raises the flag of the former communist state in the South and has pushed to again split the war-torn country in two, as it was from 1967 to 1990.
Socotra Governor Ramzi Mahrous condemned the separatist attacks in his province, saying from his home in the Indian Ocean island that his forces would fight back. He did not elaborate.
On Friday, separatists seized several state buildings, including the governor’s headquarters, as they pushed into the provincial capital, Hadibo, and engaged in fierce fighting with forces loyal to the government of Hadi.
Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Sudan, launched a brutal war against Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Yemen’s former president Hadi.
The aggression initially consisted of a bombing campaign but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces to Yemen. Hundreds of thousands of people have died since the war began, says Yemen’s Health Ministry.
The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The United Nations (UN) has said that a record 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.
Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.
According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has driven the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster, as Saudi Arabia’s deadly campaign prevented the patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.