On August 29th, United Arab Emirates (UAE) forces carried out air strikes on the Saudi-backed Yemeni government forces in Aden and the Abyan Province, southern Yemen.
The UAE, the second power in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, said it carried out air strikes against “terrorist organizations” that attacked coalition forces at Aden Airport.
“The recent aggravation in offensives against the Arab Coalition forces and civilians pose a menacing threat to the security of the coalition. This in turn has necessitated precise and direct air strikes on the 28th and 29th August, 2019 against terrorist militias.”
Yemen’s Defence Ministry said in a statement that more than 300 people were killed and wounded by UAE air strikes on Aden and Abyan Province.
Yemen’s Saudi-backed government accused the UAE of launching air strikes against its troops in the interim capital Aden in support of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) that says it has regained control of the southern city.
“The Yemeni government condemns the Emirati air strikes against government forces in the interim capital Aden and in Zinjibar, which resulted in civilian and military casualties,” Deputy Foreign Minister of the Saudi-backed government Mohammad al-Hadhram said.
He urged coalition leader Saudi Arabia “to stand by the legitimate government and stop this illegal and unjustified military escalation.”
A rift in in the Saudi-led coalition is becoming more and more apparent, and this marks the first time that UAE forces have actively targeted the forces of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government.
The recent round of clashes between forces of the Saudi-backed government and the STC in Aden started on August 7th after the STC announced a “general mobilization” and called on its supporters to overthrow the Aden-based Saudi-backed government.
On August 10th, the UAE-backed STC, the so-called “separatists,” seized the presidential palace and most of the military facilities in Aden from forces loyal to the Saudi-backed ‘Yemeni President’ Mansur Hadi.
On August 29th, AFP cited a spokesperson for the STC who said the UAE-backed Security Belt Forces were in full control of Aden after renewed clashes with government forces.
“The Security Belt force completely controls the city of Aden along with its entrances,” spokesman Haitham Nezar said.
Nezar said the Security Belt forces were now setting their sights on the nearby provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, which had been retaken by government troops earlier this week.
“Our plan is to kick out the invading forces from the south,” said Nezar. The “invading forces” are those of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government, who they see as “outsiders” and “terrorists.”
Bin Breik said that STC forces fighting against the Huthis in the north were sent to the south for a major battle.
“We will not remain in the (battle) fronts to liberate the north from the Houthis while the north is invading us,” he said.
Essentially, the UAE and forces it backs are shifting focus from fighting against the Houthis in the south of Yemen, to fighting against the Saudi-backed government, further widening the rift.
Bin Breik further said over Twitter, that the STC had two major goals:
- To defeat the Houthis in the south;
- To defeat Al-Qaeda and ISIS, which they consider are propagated by the Saudi-backed government.
In a video published earlier, surrounded by fighters he said that STC hadn’t fled from the southern front at Al-Hudaydah, but have rather been recalled to fight for Aden.
رجال الجنوب رجال والله رجال
— هاني بن بريك (@HaniBinbrek) August 29, 2019
Despite targeting Saudi-backed forces with airstrikes, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are allegedly talking to “both sides” to mediate the situation, wishing for peace. Which is a fine example of doublespeak and doublethink.
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