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UAE ‘forced’ Yemeni president to back Hudaydah operation

Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi (L) and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (R) hold a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 31 May 2018 [Bandar Algaloud/Anadolu Agency]

Yemen’s President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was forced to back a Saudi and UAE attack on Hudaydah following pressure from the Emirates, Middle East Eye reported yesterday.

Hadi was forced to announce his support for attacking Hudaydah against his own will, according to an anonymous source who spoke to the UK-based news site, leaving Hudaydah at risk of being run by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“The UAE was trying initially to liberate [Hudaydah] without the support of Hadi and get the credit for it,” the source said.

“They tried to get [the Yemeni island of] Socotra. [Hudaydah] would have been another port they could have controlled,” the source said.

“As international support diminished, suddenly the Saudis intervened and managed to arrange a meeting between UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed and Hadi,” the source said.

Read: Saudi-led coalition calls on Yemen Hudaydah citizens not to leave their homes

“The UAE found they need the card of Hadi’s legitimacy. Hadi had no choice but to accept. His hands were forced.”

On Monday this week, Hadi had a meeting in Saudi Arabia, in what is thought by the source to be an attempt to secure his support over Hudaydah. The next day, Hadi was flown to the UAE to meet with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ). The attack on Hudaydah began the next day.

A statement of support by Hadi was published on the Yemen government run-Saba Net, urging military action to retake Hudaydah and to save Yemenis from a humanitarian disaster. Nearly 18 months since he last stepped foot in the country, Hadi returned to the southern Yemeni city of Aden to reportedly support his forces against the Houthis.

Hadi’s forces are currently leading a ground offensive towards southern Hudaydah and are less than ten miles away from the central point of the port city.

In late January this year, Hadi called out the UAE for leading a “coup” in Aden and undermining his legitimacy as president. In 2016 the UAE was criticised for supporting the formation of the Southern Transitional Council (STC), an opposition body which would rival Hadi’s rule, and was later scolded by Hadi for “behaving like an occupier” and not a “liberator”.

Read: UNSC ‘closed’ session called over Saudi-led attack on Hudaydah

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