TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Saudi Arabia called separatists in Southern Yemen to cede control of Aden and voiced its support for the ex-government, an indication that its rift with close ally United Arab Emirates had deepened.

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In a recent statement, the kingdom refused any “new reality” imposed by force in the south and added any attempt to destabilize Yemen’s security would be a threat against the Kingdom’s stability and “will be dealt with decisively”.

It further urged the separatists to return all captured facilities to forces loyal to Saudi-allied ex-Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

“The Kingdom stresses the necessity of handing over military bases as well as government and civilian buildings to the legitimate government,” it said, according to Reuters.

Riyadh has called for a summit meeting in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to heal the rift. 

Hadi’s side has said it would not participate in a summit unless the separatist Southern Transitional Council hands back Aden.

“We will not sit with the so-called STC at the table,” the self-proclaimed interior minister of the former government, Ahmed al-Mayssari, said on Wednesday.

“If there must be dialogue it should be with the UAE … it is the main party behind this conflict between us and the STC is only a political tool in their hands,” he said.

Both the UAE-sponsored separatists and the Saudi-backed pro-Hadi militants serve the Riyadh-led coalition and have been engaged, since 2015, in a bloody war on Yemen aimed at reinstating Hadi and crushing the popular Ansarullah movement.

The former president resigned in 2014 and later fled to the Saudi capital.

Ties between the two sides have soured over a number of issues, including what the Yemenis view as Abu Dhabi’s intention to occupy Yemen’s strategic Socotra Island and gain dominance over the major waterways in the region.

The coalition has been struggling to defeat the popular Houthi movement since 2015 but has so far failed to do so.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000 lives over the past four and a half years.