Ye­men pres­i­dent re­turns to Aden from Saudi ex­ile

Hadi to ‘su­per­vise’ Taez ofen­sive

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

ADEN: Ye­men’s pres­i­dent re­turned from ex­ile to southern city Aden yes­ter­day as his troops and al­lies in a Saudi-led coali­tion press one of their most im­por­tant of­fen­sives yet against Iran­backed Houthi rebels. Af­ter land­ing in the pro­vi­sional cap­i­tal, Abedrabbo Man­sour Hadi went straight to the palace to “su­per­vise” the of­fen­sive aimed at re­tak­ing Taez prov­ince, mostly-con­trolled by the rebels, a pres­i­den­tial source said. His re­turn comes just days af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Khaled Ba­hah an­nounced the re­turn of his gov­ern­ment to Ye­men.

The pres­i­dent has tried to re­turn be­fore. In Septem­ber, af­ter six months of ex­ile in Saudi Ara­bia, Hadi and Ba­hah re­turned to Aden but had to go back to Riyadh af­ter a deadly at­tack on the pro­vi­sional seat of gov­ern­ment. Hadi de­clared the southern port city Ye­men’s tem­po­rary cap­i­tal af­ter he es­caped house ar­rest in the rebel-held cap­i­tal Sanaa in Fe­bru­ary. The fol­low­ing month, he fled into ex­ile as the rebels and their al­lies en­tered Aden, prompt­ing a Saudi-led coali­tion to launch a mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in sup­port of his in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised gov­ern­ment.

The UN says that some 5,000 peo­ple, more than half of them civil­ians, have been killed in Ye­men since the in­ter­ven­tion be­gan. The pres­i­dent will be stay­ing at the Maashiq pres­i­den­tial palace in the cen­tral Crater dis­trict of Aden. The palace was se­verely dam­aged in the fight­ing that gripped Aden un­til July but was re­cently re­paired by the United Arab Emi­rates, which along with Saudi Ara­bia is tak­ing a lead role in sup­port­ing Hadi’s gov­ern­ment. The coali­tion sent ground troops to Ye­men in early Au­gust af­ter months of air strikes.

Loy­al­ists Ad­vance To­wards Taez

It has de­ployed sig­nif­i­cant re­in­force­ments for the ad­vance on Taez, Ye­men’s third city, mil­i­tary of­fi­cials have said. Taez has seen heavy fight­ing in re­cent months be­tween pro-gov­ern­ment forces and the Houthi Shi­ite rebels and their al­lies. There are loy­al­ist troops in­side the city but they are be­sieged by the rebels. Pro-Hadi forces and their coali­tion al­lies pushed north to­wards Taez overnight, cap­tur­ing the vil­lage of Waziaa, south­west of the city, mil­i­tary sources said.

The rebel-con­trolled Saba news agency had said Mon­day that the in­sur­gents re­pelled at­tempts to ad­vance on four fronts to­wards Waziaa. Fur­ther south, pro-Hadi fight­ers ad­vanced to­wards Rahida, the prov­ince’s sec­ond­largest city, fol­low­ing fierce clashes at nearby Shu­raija, a mil­i­tary source said. Loy­al­ist forces de­ployed in Dhubab ad­vanced to­wards the port city of Mocha on the Red Sea, an army of­fi­cer said. “They are 30 km away from Mocha,” he said.

The fight­ing, which has been ac­com­pa­nied by Saudi-led air strikes, has left 26 rebels and 33 loy­al­ists dead since Mon­day, pro-Hadi mil­i­tary sources said. A 400-strong Su­danese force ar­rived in Aden this month in sup­port of loy­al­ist forces, join­ing 500 who ar­rived in Oc­to­ber. Su­danese forces from the strate­gic Al-Anad air­base in Lahj were tak­ing part in the Taez oper­a­tions, sources said Mon­day.

The fight­ing has thrown into ques­tion UN-bro­kered peace talks that had been planned for later this month. A UN bid to launch peace talks in June failed over de­mands for a rebel with­drawal from seized ter­ri­tory, but this time, much ef­fort has been put into en­sur­ing there is agree­ment in ad­vance on the agenda. The hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Ye­men has been iden­ti­fied by the United Na­tions as one of the world’s worst, with 80 per­cent of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion on the brink of famine. —AFP

ADEN: Ye­men’s Pres­i­dent Abed Rabbo Man­sour Hadi (cen­ter) walks at Aden air­port upon his ar­rival from Saudi Ara­bia yes­ter­day.— AP

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