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Yemen: Protests intensify against Saudi-led coalition

People come together in Yemen to protest against the Arab Coalition
People come together in Yemen to protest against the Arab Coalition

From Socotra to Al-Mahrah, crises are still affecting the Arab Coalition in Yemen, specifically Saudi Arabia and the UAE, against the backdrop of peaceful sit-ins and demonstrations demanding Saudi Arabia to leave the latter.

There have been angry protests in eastern Yemen governorates against the Arab Coalition. Some residents of the city of Al-Mahrah announced to the Saudi-led Arab Coalition they will hold open sit-ins until the demands of the sovereignty of government institutions and the local authority in Al-Mahrah are met.

Al-Mahrah protesters

On Friday, the Preparatory Committee for the peaceful sit-ins of residents of Al-Mahrah said in a statement they will escalate their activities in order to stress national sovereignty. In addition, the protests have been joined by members of the Kilshat Al-Mehri tribe and Al-Sayar tribe.

Sheikh Saeed Afri, a member of the Preparatory Committee, said that the residents of Al-Mahrah are ensuring that they are holding peaceful sit-ins and that this position represents all Al-Mahrah residents.

Afri said during his speech before the crowd that “the sit-in is holding on to its objectives and the six demands that have been submitted to President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi for a peaceful sit-in and to achieve stability in Al-Mahrah Governorate. The residents of Al-Mahrah will fight against any person or entity that plots to harm the governorate, the republic, order and public security.

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In addition, Col. Saleh Saeed Muqbel Al-Sayari said in a speech that all the tribes of Yemen are supporting the demands raised by the residents of Al-Mahrah in the sit-in. He stressed that the tribes of Al-Sayar are supporting the residents of Al-Mahrah.

Al-Sayari also stressed on the importance of the six demands of the protesters and explained that the tribesmen are now raising the slogan of peace and support to the constitutional legitimacy led by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Earlier, four military aircrafts arrived at Al-Ghaydah airport in Al-Mahrah Governorate, where Saudi forces are stationed.

The Deputy Governor of Al-Mahrah Governorate, Sheikh Ali Salem Al-Harizi, had said before that the UAE and Saudi forces’ presence in the governorate is an occupation.

Sheikh Ali Al-Harizi has previously announced his support for the peaceful sit-ins of Al-Mahrah that support the legitimacy and call for the coalition forces’ withdrawal from the airport, handing over Nashtoon Port and returning army and security forces to the two land outlets of Shahn and Sarfit.

Yemeni human rights activist Abdul Aziz Al-Ereikan told Masr Al-Arabia that the Arab Coalition has started its mission in Yemen three years ago. “We thought it aimed at saving Yemenis from Al-Houthi and his rebel group. However, few years later, it turned out that the Coalition has been trying to impose its influence at any cost.”

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He continued: “No one can predict the result of these protests, especially since this governorate is known to be peaceful. However, it is certain that the tribal participation in these demonstrations makes them highly significant.” He wondered:

Why does the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi keep silent about what is happening?

Media sources reported the arrival of equipment, heavy military vehicles and aircrafts to the international airport in Al-Ghaydah International Airport in Al-Mahrah Governorate, east of Yemen, in conjunction with the continuation of peaceful sit-ins in Al-Ghaydah Square, calling for the Coalition’s return to abide by its declared goals.

The sources said in statements that the Saudi forces, that have been using Al-Ghaydah International Airport as military base for its forces, has landed military vehicles and equipment, including two Apache helicopters and military armoured and anti-riot vehicles.

The sources added that Rajeh Bakrit, the governor of Al-Mahrah who is currently staying in the Saudi capital Riyadh, asked the Saudi forces to intensify their presence, allowing him to take full control of the governorate and the local authority, with the security and military forces supported by Saudi Arabia.

Media sources also pointed out that Bakrit stressed his disquiet at the peaceful sit-ins that raised the slogans of asserting national sovereignty and demanded the withdrawal of Saudi forces from Al-Ghaydah International Airport and Nashtoon Port, handing over the two land outlets of Shahn and Sarfit to National Army Forces, and the need for the Coalition’s return to abide by its declared goals.

#YemeniCrisis

These moves warn of an escalation against the peaceful protestors in Al-Ghaydah, the capital of Al-Mahrah governorate, according to Al-Mahrah Post.

The residents of Al-Mahrah had announced an open sit-in nearly three weeks ago, demanding the preservation of national sovereignty, the handing over the two land outlets of Shahn and Sarfit and the Saudi military forces’ withdrawal from Nashtoon Port and Al-Ghaydah International Airport.

In December 2017, Saudi Arabia had sent military reinforcements that stationed at Al-Ghaydah International Airport and land and sea outlets, under the pretext of combating smuggling. Tribesmen and politicians rejected this at that time, before it reached agreements with the local authority to ensure the non-militarization of life in the governorate which is known for being peaceful and avoid political conflicts the country is witnessing.

The flame of popular protests that proved successful in the Socotra archipelago and forced UAE forces to leave the island last May, seemed to has given Al-Mehris a boost to raise their voices and claim their rights.

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