Late last week, Aden-based president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi appointed Major General Ahmed Saeed Ben Brik as the new governor of Yemen’s Hadramaut Governorate.
Faced with crippling losses at the hands of the Houthis, Hadi hopes to strengthen his position and secure the oil rich area in the Hadramaut Governorate.
This will not be an easy task, the appointment comes as the territory comes under increased attack by extremist fighters from both Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
The presence of Al Qaeda linked groups is not new to the Hadramaut valley, they have had a well established position for years.
The recent instability caused by the Saudi-led intervention has however led to Al-Qaeda’s rapid expansion in the governorate.
Having established a major base at Mukalla, on Yemen’s southern coast, extremist fighters have been pushing north and spreading throughout Hadramaut.
Recent months have also unfortunately seen the emergence of ISIS cells in the area.
The most recent fighting has been centered upon the city of Shibam, with reports of clashes and large explosions.
The fall of the city to extremists would open the road to western Yemen and perhaps even the capital of Sanaa.
This situation in Shibam is particularly depressing given the city’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As we have witnessed in Libya and Syria, extremists will not hesitate to destroy everything in Shibam of artistic or cultural significance.
One hopes the Saudi-led coalition will take this danger at Shibam seriously; but, it is doubtful.
Up until this point the Saudis have only focused on the Houthis and pursuing their bombing campaign of Yemeni cities.
Guest contributor: Joseph Wembley