Why target Yemen's Mukalla?
The legitimate Yemeni government considers Mukalla a very important city
On April 24, Mukalla - the most important port in the Yemeni governorate of Hadhramaut - was liberated from al-Qaeda via coalition operations to restore legitimacy in the country, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Legitimate Yemeni forces and members of the popular resistance, particularly from among Hadhramaut’s residents, also played an influential role.
The legitimate Yemeni government considers Mukalla a very important city. Oil and gas pipelines are connected to it from the regions of Marib and Jawf. It has experts in trade and export operations.
Above all, it is distant from Houthi influence and that of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, unlike Aden which suffers more problems.
For all these reasons, Mukalla can be a practical ‘capital’ of the legitimate Yemeni government. It generates the money required to manage internal affairs, to work in commerce, and to establish a political and civil basis that tempts Yemenis to follow suit within the context of legitimacy.
However, attacks against Mukalla by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after its liberation raises a lot of questions. ISIS was never mentioned in Mukalla or Hadhramaut until now. There have been frequent attacks there.
Mukalla generates the money required to manage internal affairs, to work in commerce, and to establish a political and civil basis that tempts Yemenis to follow suit within the context of legitimacyMshari al-Thaydi
On Sunday, an ISIS suicide bomber attacked a police headquarters, targeting the city’s security director Mubarak al-Awthaban, killing 30 people and injuring about 60. Pro-ISIS social-media users posted statements claiming that one of its members, Abu al-Baraa al-Ansari, blew himself up among a gathering of “apostate” security forces.
The war against Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Yemen is real - arresting some 250 Al-Qaeda members since liberating Mukalla is proof of that.
The war that ISIS is waging against Mukalla is further proof that this malicious organization generously serves the long-term goals of the enemies of Arab interests and of legitimacy, as represented by legitimate Yemeni forces and the Arab coalition, which are fighting Iranian soldiers in Yemen, the Houthis and their allies, Saleh’s supporters.
ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Houthis and Saleh’s forces are all the same - they are the coalition’s rivals and opponents of Yemeni peace.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May 16, 2016.
Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.
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