From time to time, the Yemeni province of Mahra is experiencing great tension, the latest of which was the success of tribal militants, on August 22, 2020, in preventing Saudi forces from reaching the “Shehn” border crossing with the Sultanate of Oman.
“Anadolu Agency” quoted local sources as saying that Saudi forces moved from Al-Ghaydah International Airport in Al-Mahrah to the “Shahin port” border with Oman, but armed men prevented that force from arriving and forced it to return to one of the camps belonging to Saudi Arabia.
It seems that the Saudi forces did not retreat from their goal, so they again sent forces after reinforcing them, but they fell into clashes with the tribesmen, and were forced again to retreat.
On August 23, local residents said that clashes broke out, on August 23, near the port, and resulted in damage to an armored vehicle in the “Hat” district, amid continuous tension between the two parties.
Since the end of 2017, Saudi Arabia has pushed its forces and military and security vehicles to Al-Mahra. Under the pretext that it seeks to “enhance security, control and combat smuggling operations,” a movement was formed that calls itself the Peaceful Protest Committee of Al-Mahrah Sons, which organizes from time to time demonstrations against the presence of Saudi forces, which turned the border crossing a stubborn thorn in Saudi Arabia’s throat.
Shipping port, Saudi Arabia
Since the first moment its forces entered the governorate of Mahra, Saudi Arabia has been planning to seize the border port of Shehn, which connects Yemen with the Sultanate of Oman, and is considered the most important and prominent outlet for millions of Yemenis, through which shipments of food, medicine and various life needs enter, and patients and travelers use it as a passage for travel abroad.
It connects Yemen’s shipping port to the outside world via the Sultanate of Oman, and it is the land crossing for about 70% of the imported goods to Yemen, in light of the closure of dozens of land and sea ports, and the control of Saudi forces and militias loyal to the UAE over the airports and ports.
Last February, Saudi forces stormed a shipping port with more than 20 military vehicles, amid popular discontent rejecting the Saudi forces ’violations and their efforts to impose a siege on the citizens in Mahra.
In August 2018, the Saudi forces had previously sought to create military points near the port on the line of the provincial capital, Al-Ghaydah, after they violated an agreement it had signed with the protesters from the city.
Salem Balhaf, a spokesman for the “Peaceful Sit-in Committee in Al-Mahra Governorate,” says that the aim of controlling a shipping port comes within the chain of control over the governorate, “to swallow up the Yemeni geography and stay permanently to implement its projects in Mahra.”
Among those plans, according to Balhaf, are “Saudi Arabia extending the oil pipeline it wants to deliver through Yemen to the Arabian Sea, and bringing the local authority to its knees, which will be deprived of obtaining substantial income from a shipping port that would help it to fulfill its internal obligations.”
Balhaf confirmed in press statements that Saudi Arabia had already “brought the security services and the local authority to their knees with several steps, most notably the closure of the port and the refusal of the passage of 180 commercial items to enter Yemen.”
He also pointed out that among those goals in their coming stages were “pursuing opponents of their presence, influencing citizens and merchants from the province and causing their losses, as well as influencing customs and traditions and the tribes that have great relations with neighboring tribes in Oman, and they used to make continuous visits between them.” “.
Greeds of control
In turn, Yemeni researcher Najeeb Al-Samawi believes that Saudi Arabia wants, through controlling the Shehn port, to “complete its siege of the Yemeni people, so that it will be at its mercy only, and control its fate.”
He explained that the Shehn port, in addition to the “Servet” outlet in the same governorate, are “the only outlets over which the Saudi forces do not control, which makes this in the eyes of the Saudis a danger to them.”
He added, “What the Saudi forces are doing in al-Mahra confirms that Saudi Arabia came to Yemen for the purpose of targeting it and weakening the legitimate authority, and it is only as part of efforts to dominate and exploit the weakness of the Yemeni government.” According to the Gulf Online website.
He points out that, with this step, Saudi Arabia has also reduced Oman’s influence in Al-Mahra, “especially since the Mahra and Omani people have wide relations, and these outlets were the vital link between them, which may also strain the situation on the Omani side.”