CAIRO – The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen said a joint committee was formed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to stabilize a cease-fire in the Yemeni provinces of Shabwah and Abyan, state TV and the state news agency said Monday.
They quoted coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki as saying the committee would start working as early as Monday.
In a joint statement run early Monday, the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE urged all parties to cooperate with the joint committee to achieve disengagement and redeployment of troops as part of the coalition’s military efforts.
The statement, issued by the foreign ministries of both countries, called for quick engagement in the dialogue that Saudi Arabia called to address the causes and repercussions of the events in some southern provinces.
It also stressed that both countries would continue their political, military, humanitarian and development work as part of the coalition efforts to preserve the interests of the Yemeni people and deter the Iran-aligned Houthi militia.
“Both countries reaffirm their keenness to preserve the Yemeni state and the interests, security, stability, independence and territorial integrity of the Yemeni people under the leadership of the legitimate president of Yemen, and to counter the coup of the Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist militia and other terrorist organizations,” the statement said.
The UAE-backed separatists earlier this month took over the southern port city of Aden, the interim seat of Yemen’s Saudi-backed government, and last week extended their control to neighboring Abyan.
Both sides are part of a Saudi-led coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthi group that ousted the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014.
But the Southern Transitional Council, which seeks self-rule in the south, turned on the government after accusing a party allied to Hadi of being complicit in a Houthi attack on southern forces.
Saudi Arabia has called for a summit to end the standoff, which has complicated U.N. efforts to end the war in Yemen. But Hadi’s government said it would not participate until the separatists ceded control of sites they had seized.
The standoff has exposed differences between regional allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which in June scaled down its presence in Yemen while still backing thousands of southern separatist fighters.