"But like much else undertaken by the Saleh regime, this (the original contract) was done with a mixture of cynicism, intrigue, and incompetence. By that year, the Southern Movement—a catch-all term for anyone in the south agitating for broader rights—was picking up steam, but had yet to become the full-fledged secession movement into which it would later morph. At that point the bulk of demands were primarily economic, reflecting the needs of a neglected south: relative even to the rest of Yemen, the south has been mired in deep poverty, a legacy of its own misrule and the punitive rule of the north. One demand was for more social mobility, the number one driver of which was military promotion; policies from Sanaa made it difficult for southerners to advance. Beyond that, the movement also demanded a return of land and ownership over industrial properties, which had been appropriated by northerners following the civil war. Saleh then signed away the port—which was the economic heart of the south and its primary engine for growth. Not only did this give the regime ready cash, but it ensured that the money would be used at Sanaa’s discretion. In 2008 few believed it would be funneled into economic opportunities in the south, and it would be difficult to think of a move that more utterly disregarded southern demands as the port handover.
"In July of this year, workers at the port of Aden marched in protest of DPW’s mismanagement. This allegedly was pivotal to the contract’s cancellation; the government argued that DPW was incompetently run and fell short of its promises. The protest was well-timed, as Hadi had already asked parliament to look into the failings of DPW. Specifically, DPW was supposed to have built up infrastructure and bring up the capacity of shipping containers to 900,000. Neither of these was accomplished, as Yemeni transport minister Waed Abdullah Bathib told Reuters earlier this year, which gave them a reason to terminate the contract."It sounds like Hadi is making north-south reconciliation a priority, trying to defuse the southern demands of autonomy or succession by addressing the underlying grievances.