Southern Movement

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Southern Movement
الحراك الجنوبي
Participant in the South Yemen insurgency
the Yemeni Civil War, and the Yemeni Revolution
Flag of South Yemen.svg
Active 2007–present
Ideology South Yemeni independence or autonomy
Leaders Aidarus al-Zoubaidi
Ali Salem al Beidh
Hassan al-Ba'aum
Ahmed Omar Bin Fareed
Abd Al-Rahman Ali Al-Jifri
Saleh Bin Fareed
Aidroos Al Zubaidi
Shalal Ali Shayih
Area of operations Yemen
Opponents General People's Congress (pro Saleh)
Al-Qaeda (AQAP)
National Army
Daesh in Yemen

The Southern Movement (Arabic: الحراك الجنوبي‎‎ al-Ḥirāk al-Janūbiyy), sometimes known as the Southern Mobility Movement, Southern Separatist Movement, or South Yemen Movement, and colloquially known as al-Hirak,[1] is a political movement and paramilitary organization active in the former South Yemen since 2007, demanding secession from the Republic of Yemen. Since the 2015 Houthi coup d'état, the Southern Movement has chiefly allied itself with forces of Hadi, the president in exile.


Current military situation in Yemen

After the union between South Yemen and North Yemen on May 22, 1990, a civil war broke out in 1994, resulting in the defeat of the weakened southern armed forces and the expulsion of most of its leaders, including the former Secretary-General of the Yemeni Socialist party and the Vice-President of the unified Yemen, Ali Salim al-Beidh.[2]

After the 1994 civil war and the forced national unity which followed, many southerners expressed grievance at perceived injustices against them which remained unaddressed for years. Their main accusations against the Yemeni government included widespread corruption, electoral fraud, and a mishandling of the power-sharing arrangement agreed to by both parties in 1990. The bulk of these claims were levelled at the ruling party based in Sana'a, led by President Ali Abdullah Saleh. This was the same accusation given by the former southern leaders which eventually led to the 1994 civil war.[3]

Many southerners also felt that their land, home to much of the country's oil reserves and wealth,[4] had been illegally appropriated by the rulers of North Yemen. Privately owned land was seized and distributed amongst individuals affiliated with the Sana'a government. Several hundred thousand military and civil employees from the south were forced into early retirement, and compensated with pensions below subsistence level. Although equally low living standards were prevalent throughout Yemen, many residents of the south felt that they were being intentionally targeted and dismissed from important posts,[5] and being replaced with northern officials affiliated with the new government.

In May 2007, southern strife took a new turn. Grieving pensioners who had not been paid for years began to organise small demonstrations calling for equal rights and an end to the economic and political marginalization of the south. As the popularity of such protests grew and more people began to attend, the demands of the protests also developed. Eventually, calls were being made for the full secession of the south and the re-establishment of South Yemen as an independent state. The government's response to these peaceful protests was dismissive, labelling them as ‘apostates of the state’ and firing live ammunition at their demonstrations.[6]

This gave birth to the Southern Movement, which grew to consist of a loose coalition of groups with many different approaches, all with mainly one main aim, the majority favouring a complete secession from the north.[7]

The Herak separatists played a critical role in mobilising against the Houthi invasion and are currently in control of all the southern provinces.

In early 2015, the Houthis who took over the capital Sana'a months earlier, came very close to invading the southern city of Aden, the capital of former South Yemen and a seat of power for the separatists. The Houthis managed to reach the edges of the city in March 2015, and after a five month battle with local separatists, were eventually forced out after a massive pushback came from neighbouring Saudi Arabia and allied Arab countries in the form of aerial bombardment and military support. [8]

The Movement today[edit]

Today, the Southern Movement is in control of all southern provinces around the city of Aden. The only visible flags being flown are those of the former southern republic, often alongside those of the Arab coalition in a show of gratitude to neighboring allies who helped push back the Houthi forces, in particular that of the United Arab Emirates.

The Movement still claims loyalty to exiled President Hadi, though disputes have arisen since Hadi dismissed two important figures of the Southern Movement from their positions as governors of the city of Aden, namely Aidarus al-Zoubaidi.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

The group has managed to maintain control of the city whilst struggling with the constant threats and attacks from the local branch of Al Qaida.[15] Despite the terrorist group's near attempts to overrun the city and torpedo the separatists’ dream of regaining their lost state, a massive and coordinated military campaign to recapture the city from Al Qaida was launched successfully with support from their Emirati allies.

Within the movement, the groups based in Abyan (including Tariq al-Fadhli’s powerful Council for Leading the Peaceful Revolution) is allied with tribal and religiousmovements, while activism in Aden, Lahij, and Al-Dali stems more from the socialist and ex-military. The progressive factions take a more Arab nationalistic stance with some even including socialist and Marxist-Leninist factions.[16]


  1. ^ "Is South Yemen Preparing to Declare Independence?". Time. 2011-07-08. 
  2. ^ al-Suwaidi, Jamal S., ed. (1995). The Yemeni War of 1994: Causes and Consequences. Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research. ISBN 0863563007. 
  3. ^ Carapico, Sheila; Rone, Jemera (1994). "HUMAN RIGHTS IN YEMEN DURING AND AFTER THE 1994 WAR" (PDF). Human Rights Watch/Middle East. 6 (1): 1–32. Retrieved 16 September 2016. 
  4. ^ "North Yemeni Troops Seize Oil Field Center; Region Controls Country's Chief Resource". 1994-05-25. 
  5. ^ Kambeck, Jens (2016). "Returning to Transitional Justice in Yemen". Bonn: Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient.
  6. ^ "In the Name of Unity". 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  7. ^ "Yemen: End Harsh Repression in South". 2009-12-15. Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  8. ^ "Aden protestors rally behind sacked governor Al Zoubeidi". 2017-04-05. Retrieved 2017-04-05. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Al Qaeda claims attack on south Yemen army base near Aden". 2016-07-16. Retrieved 2017-05-04. 
  16. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]