UAE-sponsored militants seize billions of Yemeni riyals destined for central bank
Forces affiliated with Yemen's so-called Southern Transitional Council (STC), who are backed by the United Arab Emirates, have seized a convoy of billions of riyals destined for the central bank in the southern port city of Aden, as they seek to wrench control from the rival Saudi-backed militiamen linked to former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
The monetary institution said in a statement on Saturday that the separatists, who broke off alliance with Hadi’s administration and announced “self-administration rule” in Yemen’s southern areas in April, commandeered the convoy as it departed, warning of “dangerous consequences.”
An unnamed source was also quoted by AFP as saying that the convoy was carrying 64 billion riyals (approximately $256 million US dollars) in banknotes printed in Russia for the Hadi-controlled Yemeni central bank.
Another Hadi loyalist source said the cash was taken to a military base, describing the act as “piracy.”
“The action is part of several measures to end sources of corruption and to prevent the use of public money in supporting terrorism,” the STC said in a statement in return.
Back on June 8, pro-Hadi forces claimed territorial gains following fierce clashes with southern separatists in Yemen's Abyan Province.
A military official told Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency on condition of anonymity at the time that Hadi loyalists had captured the city of Ja'ar.
STC spokesperson Mohammad al-Naqib, however, dismissed the report, saying the UAE-backed militants had repelled an "infiltration attempt" against the city.
"Within half an hour, the infiltrators were eliminated," he said in a tweet.
Aden has been the seat of Hadi’s administration after Houthi Ansarullah fighters took over the capital, Sana’a, in late 2014.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in order to bring Hadi back to power and crush Ansarullah movement.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past five years.
More than half of Yemen’s hospitals and clinics have been destroyed or closed during the war by the Saudi-led coalition, which is supported militarily by the UK, US and other Western nations.
At least 80 percent of the 28 million-strong population is also reliant on aid to survive in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.