Dozens of Southern militants desert West Coast front; return to Aden
SANA’A – Dozens of southern Yemeni militants from the UAE-backed al-Mahdar Brigade have reportedly deserted their positions along the West Coast frontline, and have returned to Aden without any apparent orders to do so.
The al-Mahdar Brigade, led by an officer named Bassam al-Mahdar, came in conflict with the Saudi-led coalition on Wednesday, when for as of yet unknown reasons the local representative of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) refused to pay the militants for their services.
Subsequently, many in the brigade decided on Thursday to leave their positions and return to Aden, effectively forcing the nearby Hamdi Shukri Brigade to cover the positions they deserted. The city of Aden has been an effective war zone of its own for years now, as Saudi-backed Wahhabi forces have been clashing with UAE-backed South Yemeni separatist groups. It is possible that the desrted Brigade members will join in the worsening conflict over the southern port city in the near future.
The al-Mahdar Brigade has been participating in the battles for the West Coast for the past three months, but has suffered tremendous losses at the hands of the Yemeni Armed Forces and the Popular Committes loyal to the National Salvation Government of Sana’a.
Aside from this, hundreds of militiamen were reportedly killed during infighting between the al-Mahdar Brigade and Saudi-backed troops led by Tariq Afash, the nephew of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Afash, who deserted to the Saudis in December 2017, has a notorious reputation for setting his private army loose upon South Yemeni separatist militias and other former anti-Saleh groups, despite the fact that they technically fight on the same side of the conflict.