'Intolerable stage': Adenis chant anti-Presidential Leadership Council slogans at protest over petrol price hikes
A public outcry is shaking in Aden over the deterioration of basic services and petrol price hikes by the Saudi-backed government.
Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of Aden, the seat of the newly Saudi-appointed Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), in an overnight protest on 19 June and morning protest on 20 June against the Saudi-backed government's decision to rise the price of petrol by 14% for the second time this month and against the deterioration of basic services.
Protesters chanted anti-PLC, Southern Transitional Council (STC), and the coalition slogans over rising petrol price, electricity cutoffs amid summer heat, and caused the deterioration of other basic services.
Aden is under the control of the UAE-backed STC, which is led by Aidrous Al-Zubaidi who was appointed as one of the eight vice presidents of the PLC last April. The STC has been demanding the separation of south Yemen from the north but no country has officially recognized this move.
Local media reported that the protesters on the night of June 19 set tires on fire and blocked main roads with stones in Mansoura district of Aden, preventing cars from passing to other districts of Aden province.
This pushed Yemen Petroleum Company in Aden to deny it is increasing petrol price from YR19,800 to YR25,800 for every 20 liters, saying it will pump its stations in Aden with half a million liters of petrol to be sold early morning on Monday, June 20, by YR19,800.
However, Aden witnessed demonstrations on the morning of June 20, with reports saying protesters blocked a main road leading to Al-Ma'ashiq Palace, headquarter of PLC and the Saudi-backed government.
Political activists threatened that protesters are going to storm the presidential palace in Aden to expel the PLC as they did with the government in March 2021 when they forced it to evacuate the palace and flee into Saudi Arabia over failure to provide services to citizens.
The Head of PLC Rashad Al-Alimi is now in Saudi Arabia after a regional tour to Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, and Qatar.
Saleh Abo-Awdhal, editor in chief of Aden-based Alyoum8 (8th Day) newspaper said Aden has witnessed "angry popular protests" against the worsening basic services in the southern governorate of Aden.
"The situation in Aden has reached an intolerable stage," said Abo-Awdhal. "The PLC, led by Rashad Al-Alimi and Prime Minister of fifty-fifty Government Maeen Abdul-Malik, are using services that affect citizens, in the context of the political conflict with the southern political forces, led by the Southern Transitional Council".
Abo-Awdhal accused some parties -without giving names, but said they are living in the Al-Ma'ashiq Palace- of obstructing the launching of Hadi's electrical station in Aden to alleviate the electricity crisis in Aden.
"The reasons are that they are trying to extract more concessions from the Southern Transitional Council, but the situation is going to escalate again", Abo-Awdhal told Al Mayadeen English in an interview.
"These parties are negotiating to open a road in Taiz, but they are besieging the cities of the south -the safe haven for these parties- and cutting off all related services," he added, pointing out that these parties have become opponents of the citizens in Aden and other southern cities.
"The Presidential Leadership Council that Saudi Arabia brought in to address the collapse and failure of the administration of the recessive President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has made no change," Abo-Awdhal noted.
"The [Muslim] Brotherhood [Islah Party in Yemen] is the one who runs this [PLC] council, the change is only that the sovereign decision has moved from the doves of the Brotherhood-linked party to Saudi Arabia, to the hawks linked to Qatar.
"Therefore, today the options are open to the people to first defend their well-known political aspirations, as well as to extract their right to have a decent life", Abo-Awdhal told Al Mayadeen English.
'STC will protect demonstrators'
A local Arabic media outlet, Al-Janoob Today, citing unnamed sources, reported that protesters aligned with the STC blocked the road leading to the Port of Aden on June 20, preventing oil transport locomotives from leaving the port.
The sources said that the protesters cut off the main street in Al-Buraiqeh District of Aden to prevent the passage of oil tankers, noting that military forces of STC tried to open the road by force, but failed to do so and at a later time withdrew from the place.
Shallal Shaye, STC's commander of what is called the Counter-Terrorism Units and the former director of Aden's security, had announced that his forces would stand by the demonstrators.
"We will stand with all our power to protect the demonstrators and support their demands for freedom and a decent life", Shaye said in a tweet. "We cannot stand by and watch our proud southern people die of hunger".
There were no reports of clashes between protesters and the STC security forces in Aden as of June 21.
'Beginning of popular revolution'
Majed Al-Daari, a Yemeni journalist based in Aden, confirmed that Aden is witnessing "an escalating public outcry", pointing out that the protests and angry demonstrations started in Crater District.
"On June 20, hundreds of protesters moved towards Al-Ma’asheq Palace peacefully to convey their message that domestic services and living situation are no longer bearable in light of the collapse of the national currency exchange and the insane rise in [petrol] prices...despite the Petroleum Company's denial", Al-Daari told Al Mayadeen English.
Al-Daari estimated that this demonstration is "the beginning of a popular revolution of anger that will not stop at the level of demonstrations and setting tires on fire in the streets and closing streets temporarily, as happened with the streets leading to the Al-Ma'ashiq Palace before its reopening”.
"Rather, it will extend to a real storming of Al-Ma’ashiq Palace and the expulsion of the Presidential Leadership Council and Maeen's government if they do not succeed in alleviating the popular anger", Al-Daari noted.
He added, "Solutions will not come unless the war stops and the international community unites to adopt a comprehensive economic Marshall to save Yemen and gather all parties at the table of a national dialogue to discuss Yemen’s political future..."
'Protest until the external domination is over'
Tareq Sallam, Ansarullah-appointed governor of Aden who is based in Sanaa, made a series of posts concerning the situation in Aden on his Facebook account.
"Aden is one of the most Yemeni cities suffering from brutality. It has become the largest open detention camp in the Arabian Peninsula for the people who are subjected to all kinds of injustice, including security chaos, and high prices of electricity, water and health services", Sallam said in a Facebook post.
Sallam, in another post on June 20, accused the Saudi-UAE coalition of using "lies and deception", and pursuing a "policy of misleading and belittling the citizens".
"It [the coalition] returned the city [Aden] into a prehistoric suffering... assassinated the civilization of the city and made it a flashpoint for the militia," Sallam said in a post. "It flooded the cemeteries with tears for the victims of bombs, kidnappings and looting of land wealth".
"We call on the sons of Aden to continue the angry public momentum, until the time of foreign domination over you is over."