SANA’A – The tribal elders and sheikhs of Mahrah governorate in eastern Yemen have renewed their opposition to Saudi military expansion and continued occupation of their ancestral lands. This decision was made after a tribal meeting that assembled following Saudi attempts at building a military base in Atab district.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Issa al Afar, the President of the General Council of al-Mahrah and Socotra, confirmed the decision to put aside tribal differences in order to defend the rights of Mahrah’s population.
Despite a previous agreement between the people of the region of Attab and the Saudi-led invaders, Saudi forces went back to develop and establish a camp in the territory near the coast of the directorate of Atab since the start of 2019.
Mahrah is the easternmost province of Yemen, right adjacent to the border with Oman. While thinly populated and tribal in nature, the area is of extreme strategic importance to the Saudi-led invaders. Several reports indicate that Saudi Arabia isn planning to illegally construct an oil pipeline through Mahrah, stretching from the Saudi oil fields to the coast of the Arabian Sea. Thereby, Riyadh could circumvent the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf and have immediate access to the open ocean for petroleum exports.
Observers believe that the new plans to construct Saudi bases in the governorate are meant to pave the way for the oil pipeline. Both of these plans have been heavily opposed by the Mahrah population, leading to several armed clashes and increasing unrest in the territory that so far has remained far from the frontlines.