Aden, Asharq Al-Awsat—Members of Yemen’s government met with local officials from Aden on Saturday, the first such meeting in the city since government loyalists captured it from Houthi rebels last week.
A provincial official from Aden told Asharq Al-Awsat the cabinet members and local officials discussed measures to secure remaining parts of the city still under Houthi control, which include the presidential palace.
They also discussed steps to allow humanitarian aid to enter the city via its airport and the Mualla port—both recaptured from the Houthis last week—and allow the return of residents displaced due to the fighting.
Among those present at the meeting were Minister of Interior Abduh Al-Huthaifi, who said in a statement on Friday that he and Transport Minister Badr Mubarak Ba-Salma had arrived in Aden that evening.
Ba-Salma told Asharq Al-Awsat last week the government was looking to “gradually” relocate to Aden from its current base in Riyadh, beginning with the ministries of transport and interior.
This comes after “elite forces” loyal to Hadi captured large parts of the Mualla district in western Aden last Wednesday following clashes with Houthi rebels. The district’s seaport was secured by the Hadi loyalists, one day after they recaptured the city’s airport from the Houthis. Fighters from the group however still remain in the surrounding areas.
The capture of Aden represents the biggest setback for the Houthis, who backed by Iran and ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh took over the capital Sana’a last September and staged a coup against President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and his government in February.
Aden has seen over three months of fierce fighting between volunteer groups loyal to Hadi and the Houthi rebels.
Hadi and Prime Minister and Vice President Khaled Bahah escaped to Aden in March after the Houthis placed them under house arrest in Sana’a.
Hadi and his government had been seeking to form an alternative power base in Aden before it was besieged by Houthis militias, who took over the airport and presidential palace and forced Hadi and the cabinet to relocate to Riyadh, where they requested military intervention from Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies to restore political legitimacy to the country.
A Saudi-led aerial campaign targeting the Houthis in Yemen and backing Hadi loyalists on the ground in the country has been ongoing since late March.