Yemen's Hadramaut province on Wednesday (April 24th) held a military parade and a variety of celebrations marking the third anniversary of the liberation of al-Mukalla and other coastal cities from al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda seized control of the provincial capital of al-Mukalla on April 1st, 2015, and ruled with an iron fist until it was ousted just over a year later.
To mark the occasion, the 2nd Military Zone held a military parade featuring units from the Hadramaut brigades, military police, coastal defence forces and special operations battalion.
Also taking part were military cadets and units from al-Rayyan, al-Ahqaf al-Qiyan and al-Hamra camps.
The parade, held under the command of the 2nd Military Zone and the General Security and Police Directorate in coastal Hadramaut, showcased the combat readiness of the Hadramaut forces.
Speaking at the parade, Hadramaut governor and 2nd Military Zone Commander Maj. Gen. Faraj al-Bahsani described the military, service sector and developmental achievements made since the liberation of coastal Hadramaut.
All segments of the Hadramaut population were united in their refusal to let al-Qaeda maintain its control over the coastal cities, al-Bahsani said.
He praised the performance of the Hadramaut Elite Forces, describing their victory over al-Qaeda as one of the many great achievements that will be inscribed in Yemen's military history.
Security, stability, development
Hadramaut deputy governor Fahmi Badhawi told Al-Mashareq the province has restored security and reactivated development activity, after al-Qaeda had damaged or destroyed production and service facilities.
"The celebration of the liberation of coastal Hadramaut cities from al-Qaeda’s control is a victory for the restoration of political and military control to the people of Hadramaut," he said.
The province's post-victory recovery in the security, military and development arenas is worthy of emulation in other provinces, he added.
After al-Qaeda was expelled, "security agencies and the Elite Forces succeeded in thwarting all subsequent terrorist plots by pursuing fleeing al-Qaeda elements into the surrounding areas and mountains", Badhawi said.
The reestablishment of security and stability was a prerequisite to rebuilding Hadramaut’s services and infrastructure in all areas, including health, education and services as well as road projects, he said.
A number of projects have been implemented over the past three years.
Among them are "electricity projects, including the construction of a 75 megawatt gas-powered power plant in al-Hadaba area to supply Wadi Hadramaut and the Hadramaut desert with electricity", he said.
A 40-megawatt power plant also has been activated in Ash-Shihr, he added.
Road infrastructure has been another focus of improvements, with the Rasab-Sah road set to open this week, along with the Aqaba (Kataba) road, as well as water projects that have seen dozens of drinking water wells drilled.
That the Wadi Hadramaut city of Seiyun was chosen to host an extraordinary session of Yemen's parliament earlier this month "is evidence of the security and stability that distinguishes Hadramaut from all other Yemeni provinces", Badhawi said.
"Security will further be enhanced in Wadi Hadramaut owing to the governor's decision to enlist 300 soldiers to strengthen security in the districts," he added.
A legacy of destruction
"The anniversary of the liberation of al-Mukalla is the anniversary of victory over the terrorist gangs that ruled the districts of coastal Hadramaut for a full year," said 2nd Military Zone spokesman Hisham al-Jabri.
During the year it was in control, al-Qaeda "engaged in all kinds of terrorism, including destruction, kidnapping and sabotage, as well as the destruction and looting of banks and government buildings", he told Al-Mashareq.
The group's crimes included torching al-Mukalla Radio station, bombing the Political Security Directorate, executing men and women, prohibiting women from pursuing an education and restricting people's freedoms, he said.
The liberation of Hadramaut's coastal cities struck "a painful blow to terrorism in Yemen", al-Jabri said.
Al-Rayyan airport’s readiness to resume flights is a significant accomplishment for Hadramaut, journalist Imad al-Dini told Al-Mashareq.
Additional achievements made in the areas of roads, electricity and water, and the erection of a memorial for the martyrs are "the real celebration of the victory over terrorism", he said.