The Wall Street Journal published a report, which described Saudi Arabia as it is trying to overwin locals in East of Yemen. a region that has not been exposed to the war, by funding schools, providing medical services and promised new boats for fishermen.
The report pointed out that the Saudi forces seized the airports and seaports in the area of the al-Mahra province, and brought hundreds of soldiers to carry out projects, which raised opposition from the residents of the region, specifically within the Ghaydah, the capital of the province.
According to the authors, as international pressure on the Saudi-led coalition raises to halt Yemen’s devastating war, residents over there mistrust has caused complications in Riyadh’s efforts to build loyalty among locals.
Locals accuse Saudi Arabia of using project development to consolidate military presence and secure strategic interests by controlling Yemen’s basic infrastructure.”We are under Saudi occupation and we do not need them,” said Ali bin Salim al-Harizi, a former deputy governor of al-Mahra province, who helped organize demonstrations against the Saudi presence in the province.
After three years of the Saudi-led war in Yemen, coalition strikes have killed thousands of civilians and destroyed important infrastructure, including hospitals. Yemen is now the center of the largest outbreak of cholera in history, and some 85,000 children have died of hunger since the beginning of the war. War, according to the Save the Children International NGO.
The report states that the Senate passed a resolution in December to stop US support of Saudi Arabia in its war.
The authors note that while al-Mahra province avoided much of the devastation seen elsewhere in Yemen, the province reflects the extent of anger at the large role played by the regional powers, pointing out that hundreds of people have demonstrated regularly since April against the Saudi “invaders”, in which the Saudi-backed Yemeni forces killed at least two people in November when they opened fire on demonstrators.
Rajeh Saidbakrit, the Saudi-backed governor of the al-Mahra, said the two who were killed after they launched an attack on an army checkpoint; however, the al-Harizi stressed those killed were ordinary demonstrators.
According to the report, the Saudis use the airport in the Ghaydah, which they seized in late 2017, to transport soldiers to and from the country. They also carry out the development program with the help of the army, which confirms the impression among the local population that this aid is part of the Saudi war effort.
“The Yemeni government has no decision or control over the Saudi expansion in the al-Mahra,” quoting a senior Yemeni official close to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is backed by Saudi Arabia. The official, who declined to be identified, said Riyadh is exploiting the prevailing chaos in the country.
“We are allied with the Saudi-led coalition, but we don’t accept any violation of our sovereignty,” the official said. “The coalition’s goal is to reinstate the legitimate government,” he added, “not to spread military in peaceful areas.” the newspaper quoted the official.
The newspaper said that attempts by Saudi Arabia to attract the locals over there were to take control of security and trade, squeezing out Oman, which maintained good relations with people in eastern Yemen, out of the equation, according to critics, noting that Saudi Arabia has taken control of the main highways, border crossings, and port to limit trade with Oman.
According to the report, the Omani Foreign Ministry and the Omani Embassy in London, which handles foreign media requests, did not respond to the newspaper’s request to comment on the aforesaid matter.