Surprise return of Yemen’s president to Aden
LONDON - Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in exile in Saudi Arabia since March after leaving Aden ahead of a Houthi rebel advance, has returned to the city.
Hadi returned September 22nd, one day after Houthis celebrated the first anniversary of their takeover of Sana’a, when they placed Hadi and the prime minister at the time, Khaled Bahah, under house arrest.
Leading the first meeting of his government in Aden, Hadi told ministers: “Soon, we’ll be meeting in Sana’a”, according to local reports.
“The return to the capital Sana’a will come soon after the liberation of all cities and provinces from the [Houthi] militias… The phase of construction and reconstruction and the rise of the nation has started on the ground,” Hadi said in a statement.
Speaking to Al Arabiya, Yemeni activist Mohamed Abdul Sattar said: “There is public rejoicing at President Hadi’s return, which represents constitutional and popular legitimacy. The people hope his return is the beginning to the return of legitimacy to Yemen and the return of security and stability to the country.”
With the Saudi-led military coalition making slow but steady progress in the central province of Marib, ahead of an expected push to retake Sana’a, Hadi’s return to Yemen is meant to send a message to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Yemeni sources close to the president have been quoted in the Arab media as saying that Hadi will personally and directly take charge of the war effort against the rebels in the push to retake Marib.
The Yemeni president has a distinguished military career, occupying a number of military posts in South Yemen. After defecting to North Yemen, he was appointed minister of defence and played a leading role in the 1994 civil war.
Hadi’s return to the southern port city marks the second time since the Houthi takeover of the country that the Yemeni president has established a government in Aden. Hadi escaped Houthi house arrest in Sana’a in February, re-establishing his government in Aden. But the Yemeni government had to flee in March after Houthi forces moved to capture the city.
Hadi travelled to Saudi Arabia, which offered his government its support and launched a military operation that began with Operation Decisive Storm and continues as Operation Restoring Hope to push back the Houthis.
Since the start of the Saudi-led military intervention, the Houthis have lost control of five southern provinces to Hadi loyalists, with military analysts expecting Marib to be retaken next.
Hadi is expected to return to Aden permanently, which once again becomes the seat of Yemen’s legitimate government. “Yemen is now experiencing a new historic period following the return of legitimacy,” Foreign Minister Riad Yassin said.
“We will see the return of the Yemeni state in the near future,” he added in comments broadcast by Sky News.
Hadi was expected to fly to New York to brief the United Nations about the situation in Yemen. After that, he will use Aden as a launching pad to visit regional capitals and carry out diplomatic efforts on behalf of Yemen’s legitimate government, Yassin said.