SANA’A, YEMEN (2:22 A.M.) – Two soldiers were killed and 2 others wounded in clashes between rivaling factions around Aden international airport. The opponents traded gunfire and rocket strikes throughout Tuesday night until the early hours of Wednesday.
The fight followed the escalation of a dispute between the airport’s security director and his deputy. The security director backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) refused to transfer his duties to the deputy, who is backed by Saudi Arabia.
Eyewitnesses reported, that during the clashes Apache attack helicopters and planes of the Saudi led coalition crowded Aden’s airspace.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE formed with others a coalition to fight Yemen’s alliance of Houthis and the Yemenite military, in reaction to the ousting of Yemen’s Saudi backed President Hadi. Nevertheless Saudi Arabia and the UAE are fiercely competing for influence in the Gulf region.
Their rivalry showed in Aden before, when Hadi was refused landing rights at the airport by it’s UAE linked authorities. In response troops controlled by Hadi layed siege on the airport and fired the director. The Saudis first could mediate, but after another similiar incident Hadi with Saudi Arabia’s backing fired the UAE affiliated Governor of Aden, Major General Aidarous Al-Zubaida.
Shortly after on May 11, Zubaidi formed the transitional political council for the south, to administrate 5 southern provinces in independence from Hadi. The UAE while mainly aiding the Saudi led coalition with special forces are financing various independent militant groups in the south, one reportedly with 15000 members.