Liberation of Aden: Historic Transformation and a City Has Not Gotten Fair Appreciation


Thu, 28-04-2022 02:29 PM, Aden

Raad Alrimi (South24)

With his eyes overflowed by tears and touchy feelings, the octogenarian Awad, the father of the young man, Bakar Awad Bakar, who was killed in Aden in 2015, told 'South24" that: "Aden has not gotten fair appreciation". He spoke about the 7th anniversary of liberating the Southern capital city of Aden from the Iran-backed Houthis and the forces affiliated with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in July 2015.

Martyr Bakar Awad Bakar, known as "Al-Hafi" during his participation in the battles to liberate Aden (Archive photo)

Golden Spear 

On July 14th, in a Ramadan morning, an operation to liberate Aden backed by the Arab Coalition was declared. This restored people’s hope following months of fatal attacks, homelessness and displacement because of the invasion of the city at early March 2015.

The operation was dubbed as the "Golden Spear". The morning of Ramadan 27th, July 17th 2015 witnessed a military strategic shift after the liberation of the Aden Airport and most of the governorate's districts from the Houthis. Since then, the Yemeni map changed at political, economic and military levels. Yemen witnessed major changes which have their impact on the regions' hot files. 

The war

The former South Yemen's capital has incurred a heavy price due to 4 months of fierce battles. Half of the governorate's districts fell at the beginning of the war including Khormaksar, Crater, Tawahi, and Mualla. On the other hand, Mansoura, Sheikh Othman, Brega, and Dar Saad showed steadfastness. 

Speaking to “South24”, Wissam Al-Qadri who was wounded in the Aden liberation war recalled what happened.

He said: “The memory of those difficult moments passed as a dream. We insisted on liberating our land from the Northern forces’ invasion. Those painful moments shook our hearts as we lost our dearest friends, beloved ones, family members and neighbors who were martyred while defending their land”.

 He added: “despite the scale of pain, these moments were also joyful due to the end of this invasion which crouched on Aden and our hearts”. 

According to Haq (a civil voluntary Aden-based organization which defends rights and freedom), what Aden experienced in 2015 “was not armed confrontations or conflicts as claimed by different media outlets. The course of event contradicts these claims completely”. (1)

“There were unlawful armed assaults committed by insurgent military and security forces as well as illegitimate Houthi militias. These forces violated the law and acted as if they were governmental forces. On the other hand, there was grassroot resistance which stood against those attacks” He elaborated. 


During the war, a wide set of sublime ideals and efforts prevailed and led to the big victory in Aden. Young people performed the first medical aid for their injured colleagues. The little food supplies reached poor and trapped people despite the intense fatal fire. Moreover, displaced persons were sheltered in a city which has badly suffered from the war.

Speaking to “South24”, Brigadier General Khaled Al-Nassi, a commander of the Aden liberation battle recalled all these meanings and memories saying that “Aden was everyone's battle”. 

He elaborated: “It was amazing that everyone was keen to participate in the war to defend Aden. All Southern segments fought for Aden under the Southern banner. There were no rifts over territories, interests and positions as everyone was suffering. The only goal was how can we stand firmly in our land and how can we face the tyrannical enemy”.

From his perspective, “this was a sign revealing that the Southern war began with Aden and will end by liberating all South in the future. This depends on returning to the Southern roof” 

Samir Ahmed, civil society activist based in Aden told “South24”: “We were besieged and they deprived us of water medicine and food in this war”. 

He added: “While the Houthis were besieging areas before seizing them, and their subsequent brutal treatment against residents, people helped each other by providing food and medicine. The participation was not limited to holding weapons but there were people who adopted other ways of fighting such as smuggling supplies”. 

Young men from the city of Aden carrying weapons to participate in defending the city (Photo: Saleh Al-Obaidi)

The victory eyewitness 

Saleh Al-Obaidi, military photographer and one of those who documented liberating Aden, spoke to “South24” about the details of the victory. 

He said: “The operations to liberate Aden were launched from Ras Amran in the Buriqa District. We were surprised by the presence of military vehicles reinforced by our former expatriates in the KSA who became part of the King Salman Brigade. Thanks to God and those forces as well as the steadfastness of Aden residents, the enemy was defeated”.

“These moments came suddenly. While society was preoccupied with extinguishing the tanks of Aden refineries that were burning after Houthi bombardment, Aden got up to find this military move aimed at saving it from these Northern forces.” he added.

According to him, “this was the first moment to break the Iranian project in the airport plaza thanks to God and to the Southern forces backed by the Arab Coalition forces especially the UAE. This allowed Aden and South Yemen to win”.

The liberation of Aden Airport in July 2015. Vehicles raise the flags of the former state of South Yemen (Al-Obaidi)

The Arab Coalition’s support

It is hard to remember Ramadan 27th without thinking about the role of the Arab Coalition, led by the KSA and the UAE. This role was documented by footage showing a Coalition soldier saying: “we stand with you and alongside you. We will fight with you. We will fight alone if you don’t fight”. (2)

This testimony was confirmed by all who spoke to “South24” in this report. They agreed that the big and the pivotal role of these forces increasingly encouraged the Southern forces to achieve victory”.

Justice to Aden

Several years passed since liberating the capital Aden. The seventh anniversary came after historic milestones experienced by the city which enjoys the interest and competition of everyone. However, Aden, according to its people, has not been dealt with its fair due appreciation. Darkness still hangs over it every day because of the blackouts. Its residents suffer from economic and tragic conditions. 

Adani activist and the Social Party leader Waddah Al- Hariri said: “Aden, which once provided many things to everyone such as security, diversity, variety and the safe stable life, has not yet been fairly treated as it has suffered from security, services and other problems”.

He added: “I think that dealing fairly with Aden lies basically on the shoulders of the country's authorities. Everyone with different political affiliations and views should give Aden its due appreciation. This city is a beacon that was and still accommodates all forms of multiple and diverse political action”.

Al-Obaidi agreed, saying that “Aden has not received fair treatment, and has been neglected along with people who directly liberated it”. 

He went on: “we wish to See Aden in a better position to enjoy continuous progress in its seventh liberation anniversary, especially those who participated in its liberation. Their family used to receive a monthly salary of 1000 Saudi rial but this has been replaced by the local Yemeni rial which no longer has a value.”

According to him “this level of arbitrariness has not been the end of the matter but developed to irregular paying of salaries or not paying them. This represents a dark side of oppressing Aden and not giving it its fair treatment as well as its people who are real fighters against the Persian project”. 

Al-Obaidi concluded: “The Arab Coalition which is the sponsor of the political operation in both North and South Yemen should reconsider the loyal Southern forces that helped it to achieve victories that could not be attained in any other Yemeni region”.

Raad Alrimi
Journalist at South24 Center  for News and Studies 

[1] The human rights report issued by Haq (Organization for Rights and Freedoms) entitled: The Tragic Anniversary of Invading Aden, the City of Peace and Peaceful Coexistence from March 2015 - until August 2015.
[2] A documentary film about the role of the Emirati forces, Aden, minute. 5:46

Adenliberation of AdenHouthisSouthern ResistanceRepublican Guard,South Yemen,Yemen