Yemeni officials revealed that the UAE forces in the city of Mukalla in southern Yemen cut off part of the International Airport of Rayan to turn it into a military base to serve its criminal activities.
The same sources said that one of the main reasons for delaying the reopening of Al-Rayyan Airport is to secure a military headquarters for UAE forces in that territory.
Al-Rayyan Airport remained closed, despite that it was three years since the Al-Qaeda members were expelled from the city of Mukalla, while it has been used by the UAE forces as a military base and a prison, before cutting off part of it and using it for its own benefit.
According to the sources, Yemenis, including civilian and military officials in the governorate, are not allowed access to these premises, some of which were built underground. This means that the UAE forces intend to continue holding them for a long time.
the UAE exploitation of the airport has caused great controversy in Yemen because it has not suffered any damage in the war, which raises questions about why the UAE forces claim that they are carrying out maintenance work for the airport.
Yemenis see the airport maintenance as an Emirati cover to justify its continued closure, despite the need for hundreds of thousands of Yemenis for its services, especially with only two airports in service, Aden and Sioun.
The announcement of reopening the airport has become a news item in the media for nearly two years, despite repeated statements by the governor and officials and most recently the statement of the Yemeni Transport Minister about a week ago.
The continued closure of Al-Rayyan Airport in Mukalla in Hadramout province in eastern Yemen has caused increasing suffering for Yemeni citizens at a time when the UAE continues to prevent opening the airport as part of its criminal role in the country.
Al-Rayyan Airport was closed after al-Qaeda took control of Mukalla in 2015. It was closed after the liberation of the city in April 2016. Since then, the airport has become a military base and headquarters of the UAE and Saudi forces.
During the past few days, Al-Rayyan Airport was reopened following a hearing of the victims of the closure of the airport in Mukalla as part of a local campaign to re-open the airport.
Seven speakers recounted their suffering at the closure of the airport, including Fatima al-Qarazi, whose father paid his life for closing the airport.
Fatima said: “We were surprised by a health problem that affected my father. His suffering increased day by day. We moved from one hospital to another waiting for a trip through Sayoun airport, which is 350 miles away. When the flight time came he passed away.” Fatima concluded by saying, “Open the airport so that we can have medical treatment.”
In addition to Fatima, other speakers reported stories about Fatima’s story, calling on the local authorities to quickly open Al Rayyan Airport.
The former governor of Hadramout, Ahmad Ben Brik, announced in December 2016 that Al Rayyan Airport would be reopened in January 2017. But the situation continued to be the same, despite popular claims that the airport should be opened.
In January last year, the current governor of Hadramout, Maj. Gen. Faraj al-Bahsani, promised to inaugurate the airport in June of the same year, pointing out that this does not mean a compromise and a speech for the media, but a promise that the authority will go to achieve with all its might.
Al-Bahsani confirmed the same opening date in a press statement in April of the same year, saying that processing the airport is underway and will be reopened after only two months. After the specified period ended, Al-Bassani returned to announce another date for opening the airport by the end of 2018.
In addition to repeated promises, contradictory statements emerged about the continued closure of the airport. In August, al-Bassani revealed to Abu Dhabi channel the provision of air navigation and monitoring equipment to the airport and only the completion of the construction work.
But airport manager Anis Basweetin said in a press statement a few days ago that the airport management had concluded contracts with foreign countries to provide navigation equipment and upon arrival, the airport would be operational.
Promises and contradictory statements made by the local authority regarding the opening of the airport caused embarrassment to public opinion and showed to a large extent the lack of a decision to open the airport, which seems to be contingent on the accounts of the Saudi-UAE alliance.
In this context, the UAE did not hide its control over the fate of the airport, as the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed during his meeting with the governor of Hadramout at the end of 2017, instructions to start what he called the “configuration” to open the airport and the adoption of the opening of a line of the “Union” with Al-Rayyan Airport immediately after operation.
This directive reveals the extent of the UAE’s dominance over ports and airports in the south of the country. Its contents are supposed to be issued by the Yemeni government or the Ministry of Transport and from Aden, not from Abu Dhabi.
Local authorities say that the opening of the airport is contingent on the end of equipment in the new halls and the introduction of control and navigation. To confirm this, a visit was made to the leaders of civil society organizations a few days ago to the airport to inform them of what was done, but citizens see this as a kind of circumvention as the airport receives flights to Yemeni and Emirati officials.
While observers see the need for continued popular pressure on the local authority towards the opening of the airport, others reduce such moves on the grounds that such a decision is associated with the UAE military arrangements, and the completion of the task for which the airport was closed, considering that the construction of new facilities at the airport is just to gain more time.
Observers confirm that the continued closure of Al-Rayyan airport for years is not explained at all, and all the justifications given by the local authorities in Hadramout, will not withstand the fact that the airport became an Emirati base, and this is why it is still closed.
The justifications that the authorities in Hadramout are trying to market as a pretext for the continued closure of Al-Rayyan are false and incorrect. The problem of the closure of Al-Rayyan is not related to the maintenance and repairs inside it, but rather to an Emirati decision that prevents its opening due to the presence of UAE military forces. We are talking about three years in which the airport is still closed, Is it conceivable that there will be repairs and maintenance that will take all this time?
Salim Abdullah saw that the continued closure of Al-Rayyan airport kills the civilian life and strengthening militarization of the coast of Hadramout. He added in an interview with “the new Arab”: “Unfortunately, patients die because of the closure of the airport, not for anything, just because it became a military base of the coalition and the UAE in particular.”
On the equipment that the local authority is talking about, Abdullah expressed his belief that it is a ploy to justify the failure of the leadership of legitimacy and the local authority to open Al-Rayyan airport in front of the citizens to alleviate their suffering. “What does it mean that Al-Rayyan Airport receives trips of Emirati artists and military officials and officials of the legitimate government while it is not ready?”