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Photo Essay Photo Essay: Life in Aden

اقرأ المحتوى باللغة العربية

Aden, the internationally backed Yemeni government’s temporary capital, makes only the slightest pretense of accepting the authority of President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Local government offices dutifully display the president’s photo, but it is the old South Yemen flag that hangs above the main doors and throughout the city, that is painted on walls and sewn on the uniforms of the armed forces securing Aden. At the moment, Aden belongs to the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), and although the STC is part of Hadi’s government, it often behaves more like a disgruntled and well-armed opposition party waiting for others to get the city functioning again.

Aden was heavily damaged in 2015 by the Houthis, who attempted to take the city by force, and by the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes that drove Houthi forces back toward Sana’a. It saw more heavy fighting in 2019, when the UAE-backed STC wrested control of the city from Hadi’s government, their nominal allies in the war against the Houthis. In recent months, armed clashes in the city have resulted from disputes between the STC and local warlords. Little of the damage incurred during the past seven years has been repaired.

Today, Aden’s residents face severe electricity shortages, rising prices and general security concerns. And although the STC and Hadi’s government have largely refrained from open warfare in recent months, their adversarial relationship continues. These current challenges, left unchecked, could wear thin public patience with the STC’s tendency to deflect all responsibility for the city’s woes to its governing partners.

Photographer Sam Tarling spent a week in Aden in February, capturing images of a city away from the frontlines, but still suffering from the war and from a divided government’s struggle to govern.