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UAE money destroying Yemen’s Ta’izz: Pro-Hadi commander

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Tareq Saleh is pictured at the Republican Palace in Sana'a in 2012. (Photo by Reuters)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is destroying the Yemeni city of Ta’izz, a source says, after clashes erupted between the Emirati-sponsored Tareq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh’s forces and the self-proclaimed Riyadh-backed government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Clashes erupted last weekend in Ta'izz between the two sides after the Saudi-backed militants tried to impose restrictions on the UAE-sponsored mercenaries in the southwestern city.

The Middle East Eye said in a report on Sunday that impoverished Yemenis in Ta’izz are joining the ranks of Tareq - the nephew of the late Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh who is accused of leading a deadly crackdown on 2011 protests against his uncle - "for one reason: Emirati money".

He established the National Resistance Forces (NRF), which is primarily made up of former members of the Yemeni Republican Guard, at the western coast around the port city of Mocha.

According to the report, the group has expanded to Ta’izz, recruiting new mercenaries every day due to the high salaries it offers.

The prospect of higher salaries has prompted thousands of pro-Hadi militants to join the NRF. Most of them now live in the town of al-Turbah which lies on the strategic main road between the Ta’izz and the port city of Aden.

Violent protests

In response, the so-called military police in Ta’izz, which are loyal to the Islah party that represents the Hadi’s self-proclaimed government in the city, deployed reinforcements to impose restrictions on the movement of Tareq's militants in al-Turbah.

As a result, the NRF and their supporters staged protests in al-Turbah last weekend, demanding the withdrawal of the new military camps, most of which are linked to Islah forces, in the area.

Clashes between NRF supporters and the Islah-backed forces stopped on Sunday, but sporadic fighting broke out again.

Ahmed, a military police member, told MEE that not only Tareq's supporters, but all the UAE-backed sides, took part in the recent protest and clashes in al-Turbah.

"It is the UAE's money that is destroying Ta’izz and the whole country. The UAE succeeded in dividing Ta’izz's army by its money. Nowadays, we can see new brigades supporting the UAE."

He noted that the UAE-backed armed groups “exploited the poverty of Yemenis, and some needy people join UAE-backed forces for the sake of money".

Ahmed further said that many residents of Ta’izz oppose the presence of NRF fighters in their villages, but are afraid to speak out.

Both the UAE-sponsored mercenaries and the Saudi-backed militants loyal to Hadi serve the Riyadh-led military coalition and have been engaged, since March 2015, in a bloody war on Yemeni people, with the aim of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing Ansarullah movement.

The UAE has been accused of attempting to occupy Yemen’s strategic Socotra Island to secure what it perceives to be its geopolitical interests in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.

The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

A number of Western countries, the US and Britain in particular, are also accused of being complicit in the ongoing aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.

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