South Yemen Fighting Exposes Rift Between Saudi, UAE Forces

Invasion force has been deeply divided between two foreign powers

Nearly a week of fighting in South Yemen has come to at least a temporary halt with the signing of a ceasefire, but the fact that there was such heavy fighting at all among what were meant to be close allies underscores the deep divide that lies just beneath the surface.

The split is one that analysts have been familiar with for some time. Saudi Arabia is nominally the leader of the invading coalition, but in the course of the war, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has carved out a substantial number of factions in the coalition who are loyal to them.

These different factions all had different visions of what post-war Yemen would look like, and the fighting erupted in Aden last week, with UAE-backed separatists taking over the palace, and ultimately the entire city.

The ceasefire gives both sides time to make decisions, and negotiate a bit on what they’re going to do going forward. Whatever they end up doing, however, there is no going back to pretending that these groups are fully united in the war, and that there isn’t a divide here always waiting to erupt.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of