(Photo credit: Middle East Eye)
Yemeni officials told media on 10 August that over the past 24 hours, 35 people, including five civilians, have been killed in clashes between Islah Party forces and UAE-backed mercenaries in the city of Ataq, the capital of Shabwa province.
The clashes began on 7 August after the governor of Shabwa province, affiliated with the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), dismissed the area’s police chief for his “anti-Emirati stance.”
The clashes are currently ongoing, and are being fought between the UAE’s Giants Brigade mercenary group and the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) official branch in Yemen, the Saudi-backed Islah Party.
“The UAE-backed Giants Brigades are sending military reinforcements to the city of Ataq, the capital of Shabwa Governorate in eastern Yemen, to support its forces in the face of those affiliated with the Islah party,” an Al-Mayadeen correspondent in the area reported.
The governor of Shabwa, Awad Al-Wazir, has announced the launching of a counter operation aimed at confronting the Islah Party and restoring “security and stability” in the province.
“Shabwa governorate is facing a military rebellion against the leadership of the local authority,” the STC said in a statement, affirming “full support for the measures announced by the governor of Shabwa, including holding those involved… accountable and referring them to trial for their betrayal.”
The UAE has been actively involved in the aggressions of the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen, backing mercenary groups, such as the Giants Brigade and the Yemen Happy Brigade, as well as taking part in indiscriminate bombing campaigns.
Salafist militias, which include extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS, have been a prominent element of the coalition’s ground forces in Yemen since the start of the war in 2015, and regularly fight alongside UAE-backed mercenaries.
In June, extremist Takfiri elements of one of the UAE-backed mercenary groups operating in Yemen raped six underage girls in the port city of Hodeidah, sparking outrage across the war-torn country and prompting local residents to angrily demand the expulsion of all militias supported by Abu Dhabi.
The Saudi-backed, MB affiliated Islah Party has also committed atrocities throughout the seven-year conflict, including its torture of prisoners and its unwarranted arrests of hundreds of travelers on the main roads of the Marib province.
The clashes between the UAE-backed mercenaries and the Islah Party illustrate the inherent differences between the main coalition members that have periodically erupted throughout the conflict.