Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 November 2019

Yemenis rally in show of support for Saudi-led coalition

Thousands turn out to express thanks for efforts against Houthi rebels and terror groups

People carry portraits of Saudi and UAE leaders during a rally in support of the Arab Coalition in Yemen's southern port city of Aden on September 5, 2019. AFP
People carry portraits of Saudi and UAE leaders during a rally in support of the Arab Coalition in Yemen's southern port city of Aden on September 5, 2019. AFP

Thousands of Yemenis rallied in Aden and Mukalla city in Hadramawt province on Thursday to show support for the Saudi-led Arab Coalition's efforts to combat Houthi rebels and extremist groups while providing humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.

Crowds packed Madram Street in Aden's Al Mualla area, many of whom had travelled from neighbouring provinces such as Lahej, Abyan and Dhalea a day earlier and camped overnight in the southern port city despite the high temperature and humidity.

The director of Aden Security Forces, General Shallal Ali Shaiya, gave a short speech in which he said southern forces would continue working with the Coalition until its goals were achieved.

"We will keep loyal to the martyrs of the UAE and Saudi Arabia and we will go with them far until we achieve all the goals of the Coalition in cutting the arm of Iran in the Arab region and clear the terror groups in Yemen," Gen Shaiya said.

Mohammed Al Shurafi, 60, who set off from his home in Dhalea on Wednesday, said he had come to Aden to express his appreciation to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

"They have been working day and night to mitigate the horrible effects of the war by the Houthis and the terror groups,” Mr Al Shurafi told The National, waving the UAE flag and pictures of its rulers.

Houthi rebels launched an attack on Dhalea earlier this year that was repelled by an alliance of Coalition-supported Yemeni forces. The province was the first to be recaptured from the Iran-backed rebels in the months following the Coalition's intervention in the war in March 2015 at the request of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.

Merfat Abdulwasea, an activist from Aden and one the many women attending the rally, said she was grateful for the support provided by the UAE as part of the Coalition's humanitarian mission in Yemen.

She praised the work of the Emirates Red Crescent which, along with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, has been one of the main channels of Coalition assistance. "ERC has gone above and beyond to save millions of lives in the liberated provinces. The UAE humanitarian aid reached every single home in the urban and the rural areas equally," Ms Abdulwasea told The National. "What they have been doing in our country is really appreciated.”

The rally in Aden drew thousands of people, including residents of neighbouring provinces in southern Yemen. AP Photo
The rally in Aden drew thousands of people, including residents of neighbouring provinces in southern Yemen. AP Photo

Abdulrahman Ghandi, a leader in the Southern Transitional Council, said the rallies had been organised to thank the Arab Coalition countries.

“We are here to say thanks for all the great work that has been done by our brothers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They have been leading major efforts to help the people in south and north Yemen to restore their country,” Mr Ghandi told The National.

“We ask the UAE to keep up its efforts to counter terror groups in the southern provinces. Terrorism is a big threat for us; we hope they keep battling the terror organisations so we can live peacefully."

The rallies were held amid Saudi-mediated talks in Jeddah between the STC and the government to resolve differences that led to recent clashes between their forces. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pressed both sides to reconcile and focus on the effort to defeat the Houthis and terror groups that have been showing signs of resurgence.

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, said on Saturday that the two Coalition countries remained united on the need for dialogue to resolve the dispute.

In a tweet praising praising Saudi Arabia for leading the alliance with "patience, skill and ability", Dr Gargash said "we stand with it in its call for dialogue as we have stood with it in its call for resolution".

The rally in Mukalla, which was retaken from Al Qaeda by Emirati and Yemeni forces in April 2016, also drew thousands of people on to the streets to show their support for the Coalition.

Mohammed Bahadad, a journalist in south-eastern port city, said people came from other parts of Hadramawt and from neighbouring Shabwa province to take part.

A rally was also held on Socotra, where crowds of men and women gathered in the Liberty Square in Hadibo, the main city, waving flags of the Coalition states, chanting slogans and carrying banners praising their role in rebuilding infrastructure.

“It is special day for us in Socotra and the other provinces in south Yemen. Our brothers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia provided us with real support that alleviated our suffering. They rebuilt the education and health infrastructure and the airport and trained security forces to keep our land safe,” said Saeed Dhemadad, who took part in the rally.

Updated: September 7, 2019 04:07 PM

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