In another direct challenge to the internationally recognised government of Yemen, the Southern Transitional Council (STC) announced in a statement by its leader, Aidaroos Al-Zubaidi, that the "restoration" of the southern state is nearing.
Al-Zubaidi said that the STC "opened all doors in front of the people's cause and the extraction of the adversaries' recognition of a fully sovereign independent federal state" that is based on the pre-unity border of 21 May 1990. He added that the STC will refuse any unilateral decisions taken by the Yemeni government.
The STC was founded in 2017 by activists from the southern secessionist movement and calls for the return of the south Yemeni state. Their vision contradicts the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference of 2014, which agreed on creating a federal state with six regions and on which the Yemeni government is basing its vision for post-war Yemen.
In 2019, the STC and the Yemeni government signed a power-sharing agreement after the STC declared self-rule in areas it controlled. However, the STC is also facing criticism over its governance, particularly in areas of security and services.
According to STC sources, the Council joined the government in signing the Riyadh agreement to open a pathway for its goal of restoring the southern Yemeni state, and that the agreement with the government does not entail backing down from its main goal of the restoration of that state.
Last March, supporters of the STC stormed the presidential palace in Aden. The incident was widely condemned by the Yemeni government and its Gulf allies but did not lead to the collapse of the Riyadh agreement as some predicted.