UAE-trained Ye­meni forces se­cure 250km road that links Shabwa prov­ince in the south with the Saudi bor­der

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Pro-gov­ern­ment troops trained by the UAE se­cured a key mo­tor­way in Ye­men link­ing a south­ern prov­ince to the Saudi bor­der.

The op­er­a­tion to se­cure the 250-kilo­me­tre road from Shabwa prov­ince was car­ried out by Ye­meni spe­cial forces, a se­cu­rity source told AFP. Shabwa prov­ince was a for­mer bas­tion of Al Qaeda.

“The high­way had been un­der the con­trol of Al Qaeda, gangs and rob­bers,” the source said, and that “se­cu­rity forces were fac­ing con­stant am­bush”.

Those forces launched a ma­jor op­er­a­tion against Al Qaeda two months ago, driv­ing it from the Shabwa with Amer­i­can back­ing.

The ji­hadists are thought to have moved far­ther south into neigh­bour­ing Abyan prov­ince, where they have since been blamed for sui­cide at­tacks on Ye­men’s mil­i­tary.

Mean­while, Ye­meni po­lice ar­rested 10 mem­bers of the Is­lamist Al Is­lah party, the group said yes­ter­day.

The ar­rests came after a road­side bomb­ing killed a cleric with ties to the United Arab Emi­rates.

Imam Yassin Al Adani, a Ye­meni cleric who serves as spir­i­tual ad­viser to UAE troops al­lied with the gov­ern­ment in Ye­men’s war, was killed when a road­side bomb struck his car near the Zayed mosque in Aden on Tues­day, se­cu­rity sources told AFP.

The cleric’s 12-year-old son was in­jured in the at­tack, the sources said.

The Ye­meni gov­ern­ment has not of­fi­cially named sus­pects re­spon­si­ble for the bomb­ing, but the Mus­lim Brother­hood-af­fil­i­ated Al Is­lah said po­lice had ar­rested 10 mem­bers of the Is­lamist move­ment at dawn, in­clud­ing un­der-sec­re­tary gen­eral Mo­hammed Ab­dul­ma­lik and a field com­man­der.

A source in Aden’s po­lice force con­firmed that of­fi­cers had raided Al Is­lah’s of­fices in the city, ar­rest­ing 10 mem­bers and con­fis­cat­ing ex­plo­sives.

The ar­rests came as the In­ter­na­tional Cri­sis Group said yes­ter­day that Saudi Ara­bia has an op­por­tu­nity to me­di­ate in the con­flict after a rift in Ye­men’s rebel camp.

In a re­port, the ICG said Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies – in­clud­ing Bri­tain and the US – should move fast to “cap­i­talise on a di­vi­sion that they have en­cour­aged”.

The re­port said they should turn the po­lit­i­cal rift be­tween Ye­meni strong­man and for­mer pres­i­dent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh and his Houthi al­lies into a cease­fire and en­sure the rebels cut all ties with Iran.

“The tim­ing is ripe but the op­por­tu­nity eas­ily could slip away,” ICG said.

Mean­while, the UN spe­cial en­voy for Ye­men, Is­mail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, ac­cused the coun­try’s war­ring lead­ers of re­fus­ing to end fight­ing and lib­er­ate peo­ple “from the

scourge of famine and con­flict”. With the war en­ter­ing its fourth year, Mr Ahmed said that “the sit­u­a­tion will con­tinue wors­en­ing” if the par­ties do not lis­ten to the peo­ple of Ye­men and dis­play flex­i­bil­ity. He also said heavy fight­ing con­tin­ues be­cause lead­ers stand to lose wealth and power.

Mr Ahmed told the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil on Tues­day he is work­ing to bring par­ties back to ne­go­ti­a­tions. He urged the coun­cil “to use all of its po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic power to ex­ert pres­sure on all par­ties to com­mit to a pact of peace”.

Com­pounded by poverty, cholera and loom­ing mass star­va­tion, the war in Ye­men has claimed more than 8,500 lives.

In 2015, a Saudi-led coali­tion – which in­cludes the UAE – in­ter­vened and joined the in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised gov­ern­ment’s fight against the Houthi rebel al­liance.

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