After a tumultuous marriage of more than 27 years, South Yemen appears to be edging closer to divorcing the north in a move politically and financially sponsored by the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE). In the southern coastal city of Aden, unified Yemen’s familiar flag of three horizontal bars has all but vanished, replaced by the former Communist nation’s emblem of a red star within a sky-blue chevron, while pictures of Emirati royals adorn the hallways of government buildings and ministries. Military units once loyal to the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi are also distinctly absent. Instead, local militias and Yemeni soldiers are flanked by Emirati troops – tasked with guarding key installations and protecting Aidarous al-Zubaidi – the UAE’s ‘man in the south’ and leader of the southern secessionist movement. Perceived by some as the only credible rival to Hadi, the 50-year-old militia leader set out his vision for the region on Friday saying an independence referendum would be “held soon.” Speaking to a raucous crowd of southerners hungry for secession, he announced the formation of a new 303-member parliament, a body analysts say will be administered under his presidency.
After the launch of seven missiles whose intended target was Riyadh and other important center of