As Yemen’s conflict rages on, one of the principal challenges for the country has become the implementation of the political aspirations of southern Yemenis. The takeover in September 2014 of Sana’a by Ansar Allah, better known as the Houthi movement, and the military intervention of a Saudi-led Arab coalition in March 2015 to reverse Houthi advances, had a direct impact on developments in the south.

Because of the war, Yemen’s southern governorates have seen an opportunity to redefine their relationship with the rest of the country. Their demands have ranged from securing greater autonomy in a united Yemen to outright secession and the restoration of a south Yemeni state, like the one that existed before the unification agreement of May 1990 that created a single Republic of Yemen.

However, the main obstacle to achieving southern Yemenis’ political aspirations has become rivalries among southern political groups. This report from XCEPT research partner the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center explores where the rivalries come from and how they shape southern Yemen today.