The Houthi rebels, who have de facto control over the Yemeni capital of Sanaa and much of the west coast, have been struggling on two fronts, both in trying to get the political interests in Sanaa all on the same page, and fighting off al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Those are big problems, but the major city of Aden, the former capital of South Yemen, might be an even bigger one, as the city’s security building flies the flag of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen.
Unlike in Sanaa, where the Houthis can send troops out against people resisting them, Aden is entirely out of their control, as is the surrounding the area. The Houthis don’t even have troops there, and the local security forces are not taking any orders from Sanaa anymore.
Unlike AQAP, whose resistance is primarily sectarian, or the Yemeni parliament, which is just trying to play for political advantage, the Aden unrest is centering around long-standing separatist sentiment, and does not intend to modify Sanaa’s policies, it wants to secede outright.
Presidents Saleh and Hadi both violently crushed separatist sentiment in Aden for years. With Hadi’s resignation last month, that sentiment is reasserting itself in a big way, and could spell an end to a united Yemen.