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Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Deposed President, Returns to Yemen

The following article was published by The New York Times on 22 September 2015. It features AOAV’s research on the impact of explosive weapons in Yemen. The original article, written by Shauib Almosawa and Kareem Fahim, can be found here.

Read the report: State of Crisis: Explosive Weapons in Yemen


SANA, Yemen — President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi of Yemen flew back to his war-ravaged country on Tuesday for the first time since he was forced into exile six months ago, according to a senior Yemeni security official and a statement by his exiled government.

The statement said his visit was meant to coincide with “great victories” that forces allied with his government had achieved against the Houthis. But it appeared to be more a symbolic reminder of Mr. Hadi’s authority than a sign that his government or its backers in Saudi Arabia are prevailing in the civil war inYemen. Sana, the capital, is still under the control of the Houthi rebels who drove him out, and other major cities are torn by fighting or are dominated by Sunni extremists.

Mr. Hadi flew to the southern port city of Aden, which forces allied with his government captured in July, said Mohammed Mousaed, a senior security official in the city.

A Saudi-led military coalition began a campaign of airstrikes against the Houthis in March with the aim of restoring power to Mr. Hadi’s government. The intervention set off a civil war in Yemen that has left nearly 5,000 people dead and drawn regional powers into the fighting. Sunni Arab governments see the war as an opportunity to shore up their domestic legitimacy and as a contest for regional supremacy against Iran, which has ties to the Shiite-led Houthis.

So far, though, the Saudi-led coalition has been unable to subdue the Houthi militias, even though states in the coalition have advanced military hardware and receive assistance from Britain and the United States.

The coalition made notable progress this summer by driving the Houthis from Aden and other parts of southern Yemen, clearing the way for Mr. Hadi’s ministers to return. But the coalition has struggled to secure Aden, and it faces a persistent threat from armed groups operating in the city.

It was not clear how long Mr. Hadi intended to remain in Aden. A government official told the Reuters news agency that he would stay through the Eid al-Adha holiday on Wednesday and then travel to New York to speak at the United Nations.

His return to Yemen coincides with one of the most violent chapters in the war so far. The Houthis, who are allied with security forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh, Mr. Hadi’s predecessor as president, have mounted a brutal offensive to control Taiz, in central Yemen.

Meanwhile, coalition warplanes have intensified their bombing of Sana in recent weeks, hitting the city daily in attacks that have killed scores of civilians.

In the latest raid, warplanes bombed a house and an apartment building in a southern neighborhood of the capital Tuesday morning, killing at least 18 people. The dead included six members of the Al Qurashi family, according to Mohammed al-Bina, who said his uncle was among the victims.

As has often been the case, there was no clear military target in the neighborhood that was struck, residents said.

“They will say there were weapons stored in our home,” said Yaseen Al-Maghribi, 11, whose father and brother were killed in the bombings. “All we had was 40 liters of petrol, and now that’s gone.”

A report released on Tuesday said that in the first seven months of 2015, explosive weapons killed or injured more people in Yemen — 5,239 — than in any other nation. Eighty-six percent were civilians, and most of those casualties were due to airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition, according to the report, by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and a British charity, Action on Armed Violence.