Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Life Returns to Yemen's Shabwah

Life Returns to Yemen's Shabwah

Friday, 14 January, 2022 - 06:45
Forces deployed at the Al-Saadi crossing in Shabwah. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Life has again been breathed in Yemen's Shabwah province after its liberation from the Iran-backed Houthi militias.

The government had confirmed earlier this week that the province was liberated by the Giants Brigades, army and tribal fighters, and the support of the Saudi-led Arab coalition.

Asharq Al-Awsat toured the province, which has twice defeated the Houthis, where it met with its people and witnessed firsthand the scars of war and destruction left by the militias.

The journey from the provincial capital Ataq to the liberated districts in the northwest took about three hours.

The main highway leading to the districts is peppered with signs warning of landmines that have planted on the side of the road by the Houthis.

The locals said the militias have planted the explosives everywhere in order to cause as much damage to the people and the Giants Brigades as possible. Some mines have been planted less than half a meter from the road that is traversed by hundreds of people a day, they warned.

We eventually reached the strategic Al-Saadi crossing that leads to the Marib province. Units of the Giants Brigades were deployed at the crossing point to continue securing it.

Signs of the battles with the Houthis were evident in the buildings and some gas stations, but otherwise calm prevailed. After stopping to take photos, the members of the Brigades urged us to continue our journey to avoid being targeted by Houthi rockets or drones.

We moved on to the al-Naqoub region where life has returned to normal. The markets were bustling and government offices were operational. We then reached Bayhan al-Ulya, Shabwah's most populous city.

Al-Ulya was crowded, the markets lively and traffic was normal with civilian and military vehicles. The Giants Brigades were securing the city and the people were greeting and thanking them for liberating the region.

Saleh Ali Marjan, a resident of Bayhan al-Ulya, said the Giants Brigades' liberation of the three Shabwah districts in such a short time was remarkable.

Of the Houthis, he told Asharq Al-Awsat: "They fought us in everything, even the currency approved by the legitimacy. They barred us from using it. We suffered a lot and Bayhan still needs help."

He hailed the role of the Arab coalition in supporting the Giants Brigades in the battles. "The coalition strikes were effective and accurate against the Houthis."

Another resident, Saleh Ahmed Jaber said the liberation of the district from Houthi clutches is a good step.

"This is a precursor to the liberation of the country," he predicted.

"We now feel safe and secure with the deployment of the Giants Brigades. The Arab coalition jets were effective in regions outside the city and in pursuing the Houthis," he remarked.

As we toured the city, we noted the Houthi slogans that were scrawled on several stores and buildings, even mosques. Many read "Boycott American products", "Death to America", and "Death to Israel".

Resident Ahmed al-Jaashani said the liberation has revived the region after the oppression the people witnessed by the Houthis.

"Everything had come to a halt. Now, life has returned to normal. We thank God for the Giants Brigades," he added.

In the city's main market, we encountered some children. We asked them why they weren't in school, they replied that classes had been suspended due to the war.

"We will return to school soon. The defeat of the Houthis is now the most important thing," they said.

Editor Picks