Whatever was there: the port described by Marco Polo as the centre of the commerce, the memories of French poet Rimbaud who lived there and hated it (Yemenis never believed him, though); the traces of Portuguese, Ottoman, British, Soviet governance summing up to centuries of foreign occupation, the local legends repeating that Aden is as old as humanity and hosts – somewhere – the remains of Cain and Abel, whatever was there has been buried under the bombs.
Aden, now, is the temporary capital of the government of ex President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who is in exile. A President unrecognisable even to his own few supporters. A President who escaped twice, once from Sanaá and once from Aden itself, to rush to Ryadh asking for military intervention. Against his own people, almost overnight.That was March 25, 2015.
They tell us the story that the Saudi-led coalition launched military operations on Yemen rubbling the country to prevent the Houthis absorption of the South. Houthis seen as an extension of Iran´s arm in Yemen.
Whatever Aden represents now, it is unlikely to be considered a success. Unless debris, the variety of militias belonging to the most heterogeneal Islamist groups and militants occupying buildings and sniping passers-by, car bombs claiming lives by the dozens, a closed port, sealed and destroyed schools, collapsing infrastructure, a non-operating airport, coalition mercenaries locked in their basis too scared to venture out, are to be considered a sign of victory and order restoration.
Surprisingly enough, ex President Hadi and his exiled government, rarely fly and step foot in Aden. They constantly run away from their own self-claimed success.
Only children consider Aden, still, their playground. No matter what.
Photos: UNICEF, Yemen