The southern separatists are stronger than ever before, taking advantage of the ongoing war against the Houthis in the north to bolster their position. Any serious attempt to divide Yemen would inevitably prolong the current conflict, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis and leaving the country even more prone to regional and international intervention.
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But due to (still relatively small) Iranian influence in Yemen, the Saudis and Emiratis will be obliged to work together in the medium term. As the Brookings Institution’s Bruce Riedel put it, ‘The war costs Tehran a few million dollars per month, while it costs Riyadh $6 billion per month.’ Any disagreement between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi could increase Iran’s influence.