South Yemen: Stopping Hadramout's oil export is a pressure card or a liberation strategy


Sun, 27-09-2020 02:06 PM, Aden

South24| Jacob Al-Sufyani

Finally, the local authorities in the oil-rich Hadramout governorate, east of Aden, South Yemen, dared to use the strategic oil card against the Hadi government, residing in Riyadh, after accusing the latter of “neglecting” the governorate’s residents and causing the collapse of basic services in it, which brought out Yemeni government from its silence.

"the suspension of oil exports from the oil fields and port (Al-Daba) in Hadramout as of October 1, 2020," The Governor of Hadramawt Governorate and Commander of the Second Military Region, Major General Faraj Al-Bahsani, announced last Tuesday, September 22.

This decision came after the hot popular protests that took place in several areas in Hadramawt governorate over the past weeks, denouncing the deterioration of the service situation there.

In addition to the widespread official and popular dissatisfaction with the Yemeni government now in Hadhramaut, it is still waging a political and military struggle to the west in Aden with the Southern Transitional Council, which previously announced escalatory steps there in the face of similar problems that the Hadi government is accused of causing, at a time.

The efforts of Saudi Arabia, the leader of the coalition in Yemen, towards achieving the new mechanism for implementing the Riyadh Agreement collide with wide complications.

Al-Bahsani criticized the Yemeni authorities denial of his role in the governorate,"It was our great hope that our efforts and national stances against the terrorist Al-Qaeda organization and towards this country and citizens would be appreciated."

"Hadramout is the only governorate that produces crude oil, and it has achieved what no other governorate has achieved," Major General Al-Bahsani adds.

Al-Bahsani put forward six demands for the Yemeni government to implement them: (urgent disbursement of salaries for the forces and military and security agencies, commitment to purchase fuel for power plants in Hadramout governorate, the government's commitment to pay the costs of the purchased energy, the government’s commitment to providing spare parts and oils for the maintenance of state power stations, obligating the government to establish The 100-megapixel power plant, the government’s commitment to transferring the governorate’s percentage of oil sales on time, without any detraction.)

Al-Bahsani's decision is no longer an option

Prominent political sources accused the Yemeni government of neglecting its duties and engaging in massive corruption, noting that the decision to stop oil exports was dictated by the "terrible collapse of political services" in Hadramout.

A prominent southern politician and a member of the STC Presidency, Ali Al Kathiri, considered to “South24”, that Al-Bahsani’s decision to stop oil exports as “a decision dictated by the terrible collapse of basic services and the Yemeni government’s reluctance to carry out its duties to stop this collapse and to provide the requirements for the flow of energy production in the districts of Hadramout coast. Specifically ".

"The state of collapsing services in the coast of Hadramout and in the other southern governorates has reached levels that are no longer tolerated but a form of letdown," Al-Kathiri said.
In September 2019, the Governor of Hadramawt announced the suspension of oil exports from the governorate due to what he said was the negligence and disavowal of the Yemeni government's duty towards Hadhramaut, but the decision was later canceled after a partial response to similar demands.

Al-Kathiri, who is also a member of the Transitional Council delegation in Riyadh, hinted to “South24” that the Yemeni government seized the proceeds of millions of barrels of crude oil, “and that the proceeds of this wealth went to banks marred by corruption,”  therefore, according to Al-Kathiri, “it became necessary to take a step to stop the export of oil.., a step that came too late but is still a valid card to pressure the caretaker government.

The official in the Southern Transitional Council considered that "the exacerbation of the crises and the war of services waged by some parties in the Yemeni government against the South's people," comes "in the context of a package of actions in which those parties are involved in escaping the entitlements of the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, actions that, if continued, will push the situation in the southern governorates out of control."

Break out of silence

The Yemeni government did not delay to respond, as usual. One day after the governor of Hadramout threatened to stop oil exports, the Yemeni government placed the responsibility on the shoulders of the governor of Hadramout himself.

A government statement, published by the official Saba Agency, said on Thursday, "The total central government spending transferred to Hadramout during the year 2019 and the first quarter of 2020 amounted to 150 billion Yemeni riyals."

While a responsible source affirmed "the Yemeni government's full commitment to the citizens of Hadhramaut and all the liberated areas," he expressed "his surprise at the use of this paper to throw accusations and disavow responsibility," according to the official agency.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Al Mukalla, Hadramout, gather to support the Southern Transitional Council, 18 July 2020 (activists)

What if the export was stopped?

Hadramawt export more than 80% of Yemeni oil exports, and during the past year 2019, exports of oil extracted from Hadramawt accounted for 35% of Yemen's total public revenues. In the event that oil exports are stopped, Yemen will lose the most important sources of hard currency, which may cause an unprecedented decline in the national currency, which heralds a complete collapse of the Yemeni economy, which is suffering from a real crisis at the present time.

The value of the local currency has reached record low levels, at a time when the country is still witnessing a wide humanitarian and economic crisis threatening the lives of millions of people, and threatening humanitarian catastrophe and "famine", according to a recent report of the United Nations World Food Organization.

Undeclared war

On June 14 of this year, the spokesman for the Second Military Region, Hisham Al-Jabri, announced a failed assassination attempt targeting the convoy of the Governor of Hadramout, via a high-explosive device planted on the main road leading to the leadership of the Second Military Region in Mukalla.

The attempt to assassinate Al-Bahsani came a few weeks after the decisions issued by the Yemeni Interior Minister, Ahmed Al-Maysari, to dismiss security figures in Hadhramaut loyal to Bahsani, and replace them with other figures close to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose members are spread in Wadi Hadramout.

While South Yemen’s oil appears to be the next card for the conflict with the Yemeni government, especially in the eastern regions of Shabwa and Hadramout, observers fear the continued control of pro-government groups over oil production areas, which have links to extremist Islamic organizations, which makes neutralizing the capabilities of this Armed groups over oil resources, a liberation strategy, could reinforce the local demands of the people of southern Yemen for the independence of their country, instead of using them as seasonal pressure cards.

´- Jacob Al-Sufyani is a journalist and editor at the South24 Center for News and Studies

HadramoutYemen OilSouth YemenSouthern Transitional Council