Hadramaut celebrates a year without al-Qaeda

By Abu Bakr al-Yamani in Sanaa

Yemeni forces inspect vehicles at a checkpoint in the Hadramaut provincial capital of al-Mukalla on July 19th, 2016. [Abduljabbar Bajubair/AFP]

Yemeni forces inspect vehicles at a checkpoint in the Hadramaut provincial capital of al-Mukalla on July 19th, 2016. [Abduljabbar Bajubair/AFP]

Hadramaut province on Monday (April 24th) celebrates the first anniversary of the liberation of al-Mukalla from al-Qaeda.

Backed by coalition forces, Yemeni forces in the 2nd military zone and the Hadramaut elite forces liberated the provincial capital and neighbouring coastal provinces on April 24th, 2016.

Al-Qaeda had been in control of the area for a year.

In honour of the occasion, Hadramaut governor Ahmed Saeed bin Breyk designated Monday as a public holiday.

Official celebrations began on Sunday night, with a fireworks display lighting up al-Mukalla and other major cities along Yemen's southern coastline.

"Al-Mukalla will witness a huge military parade involving the forces and officers who participated in the liberation process," said al-Mukalla directorate head Abdul Baqi al-Huthari, who serves on the committee organising the celebrations.

A cultural celebration will follow, where a number of individuals will be honoured, he told Al-Mashareq, and there will be an evening concert featuring artists from Hadramaut.

In addition to the official programme of events, the festivities include side-events organised by civil society organisations and youth initiatives, he said.

Monday's celebration was preceded by an April 19th clean-up and beautification day in the port city, followed by a series of activities held by women's society organisations on April 21st.

On April 22nd, a parade of motorbikes rolled through the city carrying words of thanks and praise to all who contributed to its liberation, al-Huthari said.

Celebrating security, stability

It is important to celebrate the first anniversary of the liberation of al-Mukalla as this occasion is of value in extending security, stability, services and development, al-Huthari said.

On April 19th, the provincial governor launched service, education and health projects worth 500 million Yemeni riyals ($2 million), he said, and inaugurated other service and investment projects that will benefit residents.

"The liberation anniversary celebrations will include various cultural, sporting and popular events that convey the joy people feel to be free of al-Qaeda," he said.

A documentary film that tells the story of al-Mukalla's liberation and all those who participated in it and supported it also will be screened as part of the celebration, he added.

"April 24th is a precious day for all the residents of Hadramaut," Ali al-Habashi of the coalition of civil society organisations told Al-Mashareq.

Civil society organisations were invited to take part in the official celebrations or stage their own celebrations to mark this historic day, he said.

Remembering those who fell

"People have experienced a change in the situation on the ground after the entry of Hadramaut elite forces, which are considered the pride of both those inside and outside Hadramaut," said Abdurrahman Barabaa, who serves on the anniversary celebration planning committee.

The change is largely due to the presence of state institutions, he said, which have been resuming services in the province to fulfill most of the residents' needs.

It is also due to the efforts of bin Breyk and Hadramaut elite force commander Maj. Gen. Faraj Salmeen, he said, with support from coalition forces.

The occasion of al-Mukalla's liberation is a national holiday because about 385 of Hadramaut's finest young men fell in order to liberate the city, he said.

"As a citizen, it is a day to raise the banner of victory and to introduce the world to the role of the people of Hadramaut in confronting the aggressors who tried to erase the city's landmarks under the pretense of religion," he said.

"The liberation anniversary represents a day of pride and dignity; a day that I cannot find the appropriate words to describe," he said.

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May Allah preserve the Alliance and the legitimate forces sooner not later! May He also preserve the Gulf countries which have saved Yemen!