Demands for the Emiratis to leave the most important oil and gas port in Yemen

Amman Today

publish date 2021-09-05 21:48:28

The Middle East Eye website in London published a report on the transformation of the Balhaf port, which was an industrial center in Yemen, into an Emirati military barracks.

It stated that the United Arab Emirates entered Yemen for the first time in 2015 as part of the Saudi-led coalition to oust the Houthi rebels who seized the capital, Sanaa. The aim of the coalition was to prevent Yemen from becoming a center of forces hostile to the Gulf states. Since that time, the UAE has been embroiled in Yemen’s internal conflicts and supported the Southern Transitional Council, which wants to separate the south from the north against the Saudi-backed government and turned most of southern Yemen into its own fiefdom.

Proof of this is the port of Balhaf, which was once a lifeline for the economy in southern Yemen, due to the export of liquefied natural gas, which the UAE controlled for years and turned it into a military barracks.

With the war entering its seventh year, the Shabwa governorate, in which the Balhaf port is located, is in the hands of the internationally recognized government and was recaptured from the Emirati forces in 2019, but the Balhaf port remained in the hands of the Emiratis, which angered the local residents who wanted to return the port to its previous normal status as an export center. Gas and boosts an economy in which the majority of Yemenis suffer from poverty.

The UAE took control of the port where the first liquefied gas station was established in 2006, the year after its intervention with Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

The governor of Shabwa, Muhammad Saleh bin Adyo, accused the Emiratis of kidnapping important assets in the country and using them in order to provoke the “rebellion.”

He wrote in a tweet posted on August 24 on Twitter: “Exporting gas from Balhaf should be a lifeline for people in these difficult situations. And you (the Emiratis) are converting it from a source of gas collection and export to save the currency and economy of the country into a group of militias to export the rebellion.”

The site adds that Yemen’s sovereignty over the port has become a point of tension, and in the past weeks, the UAE has attempted to recruit fighters to the camp, and the local authorities responded by arresting them and setting up checkpoints on the roads in Balhaf.

At a time when fears arise of a confrontation between the two forces, the local authorities are willing to return the port, the source of national income, to the control of the Yemenis.

A citizen named Saleh said in Shabwa: “There are no Houthis in Shabwa, and Balhaf is an industrial port for the export of oil and gas, not a military barracks, and the UAE and their supporters should not stay there for a moment.”

Saleh said that the majority of Shabwa residents oppose the Emirati presence in Balhaf and that if the Emiratis wanted to fight the Houthis, they should look for another place. He added that “the governor is going in the right direction and we support him for the sake of Shabwa,” and “the fighters in Balhaf are our brothers, and all we want from them is to go to a military camp and leave Balhaf.”

On Monday, the Saudis mediated between the Emiratis and the governor, but the results of the mediation were not announced.

In a post on the “Facebook” page of the Shabwa Media Office, it was stated that the governor discussed with the Saudi delegation the continuous violations of the UAE forces in Balhaf and their mobilization of armed militias. An informed source in the province said that the Saudis met the governor on Monday, but they did not reach an agreement after the Saudis tried to impose conditions requested by the Emiratis.

The source said: “The governor is in charge of the province and is authorized to ask the Emiratis or any other foreign party to leave the province.” He added: “I want to know the purpose of the presence of the Emirati forces in Balhaf, as they create tension and confrontations between the Shabbi elite and the pro-government forces.”

The Shabab elite is supported by the Southern Transitional Council, which is in turn supported by the Emirates.

The source said that Saudi mediation is continuing, but the governor is sticking to the demand that the Emiratis leave Balhaf.

Before the war, oil and gas resources constituted 70-75% of the state’s resources and 90% of exports. But exports almost stopped at the start of the war in 2015 and the economic hardship increased.

Employees’ salaries stopped in 2016 and the value of the Yemeni currency collapsed from 215 riyals to 1,000 riyals to the dollar. 80% of the population needs humanitarian assistance, in addition to 14.3 million people suffering from severe poverty.

A member of the Presidency Council of the Southern Transitional Council, Thabet Salem al-Awlaki, stated that the situation is stable in Balhaf, adding that the checkpoints set up by government forces around Balhaf were removed and fighters loyal to the UAE were released. Al-Awlaki said: “The coalition rejects all forms of blackmail and warns the Muslim Brotherhood against attacking the headquarters of the coalition.” He accused the governor of Shabwa of bias because he is the head of the local branch of the Islah party linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Supporters of the Southern Transitional Council expressed their support for the Emirates, which supported them, as they said for the past six years, and will continue to support them against the Islah party.

Abdul Rahman Al-Obeid, a supporter of the Transitional Council, said: “The Muslim Brotherhood is controlling Shabwa and trying to control its national source, but we will not allow them to do so, because they are mercenaries from the north.”

He said: “Shabwah is for the south, and our leadership is happy with the presence of the Emirati forces that support the south, and no one is authorized to speak on behalf of the south.”

He said that the matter is beyond Shabwa, where he accused Islah of sowing discord in the south and controlling it. He said, “The Islah party allowed the Houthis to take over the north and came to compete with us on our land. They should fight the Houthis, whether in Shabwa or any other governorate, instead of creating chaos in the south.”

Since 2015, Yemen has turned into an arena of regional competition in which competing countries have brought their differences, angering the population. Saleh, the citizen of Shabwa, says that President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi should intervene in Balhaf, because the return of the port to work will generate income for the state treasury, which will benefit the whole country.

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World News

Source : ألدستور

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