Mass protests across occupied Yemen demand end of Hadi regime
SANA’A – Mass protests have rocked the Saudi-occupied south and east of Yemen, as huge gatherings of discontented citizens have swept across the provinces of Aden, Taiz, Lahj, Dhale, Abyan and Hadhramaut, in response to the ever worsening economic situation and rampant poverty resulting from the Saudi occupation. The protesters defied Saudi military occupation authorities and armed mercenary gangs that usually rule the streets in much of Saudi-occupied Yemen, in order to make their voices heard.
While some protests were limited to a call for economic reforms and an end to the rising prices of commodities, many participants shouted anti-regime slogans calling for the total abdication of Saudi-backed ruler Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and the overthrow of his regime. Hadi, formerly president of Yemen until the September 21 Revolution in 2014, still claims to be the country’s “legitimate leader”, and is recognised as such by the Saudi invaders despite his lack of popular backing in Yemen.
Protesters blocked major roads in Aden, and the General Confederation of Southern Workers’ Unions has called for a campaign of civil disobedience until its economic demands are met by the Hadi regime.
Qatar-based media outlet Al-Jazeera reported one protester, Fadl Ali Abdullah, as saying: “There is no alternative to change the situation except popular revolution against corruption in all its forms (…) The people have lost confidence in everything around them.”
The unrest was sparked by the dramatic downfall of the Yemeni riyal, which has lost over half of its value since the Saudi invasion started in March 2015. While officially, the Hadi regime claims the conversion rate is 250 Yemeni riyal per US dollar, currency traders in Aden reported on Sunday that the real conversion rate had fallen as far as 610 riyal per dollar.
The situation has been further worsened by the Hadi regime printing large amounts of currency without much oversight, causing further inflation. At the same time, Hadi opened nearly unsupervised channels for foreign exchange and speculation on the riyal, which led to massive depreciation of the Yemeni currency by predatory speculators.
Various goods and services have hit up to 25% price rising in the past days, with many commodities having become unaffordable for the general population, many of whom are suffering already from poverty and shortages due to the Saudi occupation and the continuing militia infighting in Saudi-occupied areas.
Hadi himself has vowed to find “effective measures and solutions to overcome the current situation”, but has given little to no details on his plan. The Saudi-backed former president, who has been almost continuously living in Riyadh since the start of the Saudi invasion, has reportedly left for the United States on Sunday, in order to seek medical treatment for a heart condition.