Envoy recalls evacuation drama – Arab News
Saudi diplomats were among officials from various Gulf nations, including journalists, who were evacuated from Yemen in a dramatic last-minute operation as coalition forces launched attacks on Houthi targets in Yemen, according to reports on Monday.
Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Saeed Al-Jaber was quoted as saying in Asharq Al-Awsat that the goal was to remain in the country as long as possible “because this was our duty, but the situation was deteriorating and we were threatened daily.”
“Although the Houthis were not seeking peace, we sought to stay in Aden as long as possible.”
He said staff from the embassies of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and journalists from Al-Jazeera and Sky News channels arrived at the Saudi Embassy in Aden for the evacuation.
He said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, the crown prince, the deputy crown prince, foreign minister, defense minister and other top officials had been monitoring the situation closely in Yemen.
Al-Jaber said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal and the Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman had been involved in overseeing the operation with naval forces.
Al-Jaber said the Kingdom’s soldiers involved in the operation used side roads through various neighborhoods to transport them out of the city. He said Qatar and United Arab Emirates worked closely with Saudi staff until they arrived at the port.
“They gave us weapons to defend ourselves, and we were able to evacuate safely without injury despite the ongoing fire in Aden and the threats we were receiving daily.” He said this was thanks in large part to the high-level coordination between the Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, Royal Navy and Saudi Special Forces.
“It took roughly three hours from the time we started to prepare, until our arrival at the port,” said Al-Jaber. He said they were assisted by tribes loyal to Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
He said the photograph of him on a helicopter with a weapon that went viral on social networking sites, was on board a Saudi Royal Forces helicopter during checks of evacuees on two ships. There was another taken of him on a ship.
He thanked the Kingdom’s leadership for helping to evacuate him and other staff from Yemen.