Gap Further Widening between Riyadh, Abu Dhabi over Yemen
“The city of Aden has been the scene of clashes between pro-UAE and pro-Saudi Arabia forces in recent days as the UAE announced that it will set up two brigades of extremist forces in the Southern Yemeni city,” provincial Yemeni military sources said.
The sources reiterated that the Salafi brigades will be set up in al-Masharee and Dar Sa’ad regions, and said, “A person named Mehran al-Qatebi has been appointed as commander of one of the brigades.”
Tens of pro-Hadi and pro-Saudi forces have been killed and wounded in heavy clashes between them.
The differences between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in Yemen have heightened after the UAE replaced its soldiers with Blackwater mercenaries which faced the stern oppositions of the Riyadh government.
As a result, fugitive President Mansour Hadi and his Prime Minister Khaled Bahah have been running a feud for the past several months, and their differences grew noisy when a number of Saudi officials worked out a plan to replace the former president with his premier – who had both fled to Saudi Arabia then – in order to encourage the revolutionary forces back in Yemen to work with him and allow him to start a new government.
Political observers believe that the quarrel between Hadi and his prime minister derives from the underlying row between Saudi Arabia as supporter of Hadi and UAE as supporter of Bahah.
Meantime, Lahij and Aden provinces have been the scenes of numerous attacks against pro-Hadi forces; the latest case was assassination of Aden governor Ja’afar Saeed.
In a relevant development in late December, Hadi’s palace in Aden came under siege by his opponents, forcing him to flee Yemen to Saudi Arabia again.
A newly-formed militant group calling itself ‘Southern Yemen’s Resistance Forces’ had besieged Hadi’s place of residence in Aden, Arab media outlets reported on December 23.
Political analysts speculate that the siege of Hadi’s palace had taken place with the green light of the United Arab Emirates as a result of a row between the UAE and Saudi Arabia over Hadi and his prime minister.
The speculations came as the UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed had met the leaders of Southern Yemen, including a senior Yemeni Salafi leader Hani bin Barik, in Abu Dhabi.