Yemeni troops pledge support for exiled Hadi


The Yemeni commander of a vast military district covering half the country’s border with Saudi Arabia pledged support on Sunday to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, local officials said.

The announcement puts at least 15,000 troops in the desert and mountain border area on the same side as Saudi Arabia, which backs Hadi and has waged an inconclusive three-week bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen who are allied with Iran.

“Brigadier General Abdulrahman al-Halily of the First Military District announced today his support for constitutional legitimacy as represented by President Hadi,” one of the officials told a foreign news outfit.

The declaration was also broadcast on official radio in the city of Seiyun, the main city of the Hadramawt valley area where the district’s main military base is located.

Most of Yemen’s military is loyal to powerful ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose forces are fighting alongside the Shi’ite Muslim Houthi militia in battles stretching across Yemen’s south and east.

However, the defection of the north-eastern troops brings to about 10 the number of divisions that back Hadi. It may point to an increasing sense in the military that momentum favours the president, who resides in exile in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Beginning last week, most of the army divisions along Yemen’s eastern Arabian Sea coast evacuated their posts and handed security of their bases and Yemen’s Masila oil fields, the country’s largest, to armed Sunni tribes.