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Mission to Aden: An Update on the Southern Dialogue Process  


Mediated dialogue of all southern components, say southern Yemeni leaders, is crucial for the inclusion of southern Yemeni concerns in the peace process and the achievement of sustainable peace.

In early July the European Institute of Peace undertook a week-long mission to Aden, the interim capital and seat of government of Yemen. The mission took place on the heels of the Institute’s successful participation at the Yemen International Forum, in Stockholm — and provided further opportunities for engagement and dialogue with our southern Yemeni partners, within the context of the Southern Dialogue Process.

The Institute’s mission to the interim capital of Yemen coincided with a period of significant political change in the country. The UN-brokered truce between the Huthis and the Saudi-led Coalition was renewed for a further two-month period, till 2 August 2022. In parallel, the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) has now been operating for about three months out of Aden, bringing a degree of stability to the city. Within this context our Yemen team met with key southern Yemeni politicians, government officials, women, and civil society actors, whose contributions are vital for the support and continuation of the Southern Dialogue Process.

Notable meetings were held with Aidarous al-Zubaidi, head of the Southern Transitional Council (STC), and vice-president in the Presidential Leadership Council, who expressed his support for the Institute’s efforts to find common ground among southern Yemenis, while working closely with the STC’s dialogue team. With the STC Deputy Secretary-General and member of the Consultation and Reconciliation Commission, Fadhel al-Jaadi our team discussed concrete ways of supporting southern Yemen-led efforts for dialogue and the need for enhancing women’s involvement in them as key actors in shaping the country’s future.

Our meeting with the Southern Women for Peace Group (SWFPG), bringing together women from across eight southern governorates, further reinforced the need for southern Yemeni women’s inclusion in political dialogue and the UN-led peace process; an essential step to decreasing the barriers they have faced in social and political life since the start of the conflict.

Further meetings with members of the Supreme Council of Hirak, allowed the Institute to hear from their interlocutors on the Movement’s commitment to a southern dialogue and finding common ground with the other southern Yemeni groups. Meetings with members from Peaceful Hirak provided an opportunity for our team to hear about the challenges the city of Aden has been facing, and the need for collaboration among local groups, to bring an end to years of suffering for people across southern Yemen. Similarly, the Minister for Youth and Sports, Naife Albakry and Aden’s Deputy Governor for Youth, Abdulraoof Zain gave voice to the challenges faced by youth in the current conflict, and discussed with the Institute’s team ways in which both local administration and the Southern Dialogue Process can be more supportive in enabling youth and grassroots groups to participate in a dialogue among southerners.

The Institute concluded its week-long mission with a meeting with Peter Rice, Head of the Aden Office of the UN Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY) during which our team assessed the current situation in Yemen and explored meaningful ways for the convergence of the Institute’s Southern Dialogue Process with the UN-led peace process.

The EIP team left Aden with the assurance that the Southern Dialogue Process enjoys a high degree of support from all southern Yemeni political organizations. The Institute will continue to support inclusive political dialogue among southern Yemenis to advance the cohesion of their positions and facilitate their effective inclusion in the national-level peace talks.