DAMASCUS, SYRIA (05:30 PM) – Tuesday’s assassination of pro-Saudi preacher and Aden-based supporter of Saudi-backed former president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi marks the latest event in a series of violent attacks perpetrated by South Yemeni separatists in the southern Yemeni port city.
Shawqi Kamadi, a local leader of the salafist Islah Party and preacher at the al-Thwar mosque, was assassinated by hitmen on Tuesday, the latest in dozens of targeted killings of Hadi supporters in and around Aden.
The killing comes after three pro-Hadi military leaders and a preacher were assassinated in the past week, adding to the 22 pro-government public figures that have been killed since mid-2016. While no organisation has assumed responsibility yet, many believe the South Yemeni independence movement, led by the Southern Transitional Council (STC), is to be blamed. Sources in the STC’s armed wings have denied these allegations, however.
Aden was the de facto capital of the Hadi government until its takeover in January by Southern secessionists. Since, the port city has been under control of the separatist “Security Belt” militia, supported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Led by disgruntled former Hadi government officials and supporters of the separatist South Yemen Movement party, the Security Belt group has clashed with pro-Hadi forces in several heavy clashes.
The UAE originally joined the Saudi-led invasion force in March 2015, in order to put Hadi back to power over Yemen. However, the Abu Dhabi government has since seemingly changed course, and thrown its weight behind the separatist movement that seeks to tear the south of Yemen away from the country.
Disputes between Hadi supporters and secessionists, who were previously allied with one another against the popular Ansarullah (also known as Houthis) revolutionary government in Sana’a, have spiraled into a full-blown conflict in and around Aden.