At least three people have been killed during protests over deteriorating living conditions in southern Yemen within areas controlled by the overthrown Saudi-backed government.
Two protesters were killed in Aden and in Mukalla on Wednesday when the Saudi-backed forces fired live ammunition to disperse young protesters who gathered in the two cities, Reuters quoted eyewitnesses as saying.
Another protester was killed and dozens were wounded on Tuesday night in Aden, residents said, as demonstrations intensified in south Yemen over widespread poverty and electricity outages.
The Revolutionary Youth of Yemen movement said Saudi Arabia has ordered the deadly crackdown on protests in different southern Yemeni provinces, according to al-Khabar al-Yemeni.
Clashes also erupted between protesters and the Saudi-backed mercenaries in Aden’s Khour Maksour, Crater and Sheikh Othman districts.
“We came out to protest after our life has become impossible. There is no electricity, no water, and salaries can't buy us anything. We are not going to wait until we die,” said protester Ahmed Saleh.
Protests were also reported in Shabwa and Abyan provinces in recent days.
Although acting as allies against the Yemeni government of Sana’a, the ousted Saudi-backed government and the UAE-backed southern separatists are engaged in a power struggle in south Yemen.
The Southern Transitional Council (STC) separatist group had seized Aden and other southern areas before Riyadh brokered a power-sharing deal to focus its feuding allies on the battle against the Sana’a government, controlled by the popular Ansarullah movement.
As a result of the conflict in south Yemen, public services have been crippled, with frequent power outages that disrupt distribution of water, aid supplies and medical services, in addition to unemployment and high inflation.
The protesters demand the departure of the ousted government, the STC and the Saudi-led coalition forces from Yemen, Al-Alam reported, adding that the head of the STC has called the protesters “infiltrators” and ordered his forces to deal with them with an “iron fist”.
Meanwhile, Governor of southern province of Hadhramaut, Faraj Salemin al-Bahssani has threatened to deploy tens of thousands of troops to fight the protesters.
Yemen separatists declare emergency in south Yemen
In a speech on Wednesday, Aydarous al-Zubaidi, head of the Southern Transitional Council, declared a state of emergency across Yemen’s southern provinces, including the port city of Aden.
Addressing the STC’s supporters, Zubaidi said the emergency measures go into effect immediately.
The deputy foreign minister of the Yemeni National Salvation Government warned forces affiliated with the overthrown Saudi-backed government and the STC against harming the protesters.
Hussein al-Ezzi also saluted all “voices of freedom that shout for the liberation of the [Yemeni] land and the end of the [Saudi-led] siege and aggression against Yemen.”
Yemen has been convulsed by violence and chaos since March 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allies—emboldened by their Western-manufactured arms—launched a devastating war against the poorest Middle Eastern country to reinstall Yemen’s overthrown government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in Sana’a and crush the popular Ansarullah movement.
The Riyadh-led coalition has failed to defeat the Ansarullah movement despite its relentless airstrikes and ground fighting against the movement, in a war that spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, conditions have further deteriorated in recent months, with the Yemeni Rial losing 36% of its value in July, compared to the same time last year.
Currently, tens of thousands of Yemeni people live in dire, famine-like conditions. The United Nations says more than 20.1 million of the country’s some 30 million people need some form of humanitarian aid.