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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Farewell to our heroes

by Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor


Our country is in mourning. Last Friday was one of the blackest days in the United Arab Emirates history, since its foundation in 1971. That was the day 45 of our finest were lost to us while unselfishly defending their Yemeni brother and sisters from pro-Iranian Houthi killers.

The news that a missile had hit a weapons depot close to their camp shocked all Emiratis; everyone I know felt a sense of deep hurt. All I could do was sit for a while in silence feeling helpless. The unthinkable had finally happened and for all of us this war began to feel close up and very personal.

We are a population tied together by tribal roots and family connections. Every single Emirati life is more precious as all the pearls our forefathers once harvested from the seabed and our tears more numerous. Their sacrifice, the greatest of all, must never be forgotten. A monument should be erected inscribed with every name to keep their memory alive always.

My heart goes out to the families who have lost fathers, brothers and sons. And I pray for the swift recovery of our wounded young men in intensive care fighting for their lives. Their bodies have come home now; they were treated with the utmost reverence. Their souls are with God. No one can ever harm them again. My condolences also go to the parents of the five Bahraini and 10 Saudi soldiers whose lives were so cruelly cut short; they are our sons too.

It fills me with pride to know that so many of my compatriots have rushed to hospitals all over the country in answer to calls for donations of blood. Our shared grief has welded us together as never before. Everything humanly possible must be done to care for the survivors, as I know it will because we Emiratis not only take care of our own but also of others regardless of their nationality or religious beliefs.

We are very proud of the martyrs, they are defenders of the oppressed. We pray that they reach Paradise, their sacrifices a source of pride. Tributes are pouring in from our friends all over the region and the world to tell us that we are not alone.

I am proud of our great country, our rulers and my fellow citizens. The United Arab Emirates never shirks its duty and has proved its courage time and time again.

We stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Kuwaiti people during the 1991 Gulf War welcoming them as brethren through the conflict and lest we forget our army was at the forefront of the fight to free Kuwait from Iraqi occupation.

Our pilots have taken to the skies to bomb Daesh in northern Iraq and the Emirates did not hesitate in joining the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels to protect Yemen’s sovereignty and ensure the return of the legitimate democratically-elected government.

Our country is committed to this region’s security and our hand is always open to help our friends and neighbours with financial support or assistance with preserving their freedom.

Our resolve to fight on the side of right will never falter and, if anything, our efforts to defeat Iran’s proxy ragtag army in Yemen, our Arab heartland, is redoubled. We will never permit Iranian plots to be victorious when the future of our children and grandchildren are at stake. Whereas we extend our arms to embrace the future and provide the best life possible for our people, sadly, the area around us has become a magnet for losers seeking nothing but death and destruction.

Yes, we are grieving. Our hearts are heavy remembering our faithful young heroes who did not flinch from putting their lives in danger. But their deaths will not be allowed to go for nothing. Our sadness will be replaced by anger and with it a determination to prevail over the Persian-paid and armed thugs threatening to take Yemen into the dark ages and aggressing Saudi Arabia.

My message to you is that you will not get away with robbing Yemenis of their dignity or depriving the UAE of its beloved children. You will receive our answer. Don’t doubt it! We Emiratis will never forget or forgive your crimes.

The funerals have taken place. Our fallen have been laid to rest; their coffins draped in the UAE flag. However, I and my fellow patriots will never rest until our country’s sacred mission in Yemen is completed.

And it is my fervent hope that the Emirates will also contribute to the liberation of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon so our region can be returned to its pure Arab roots unpolluted by the dishonourable bought and paid for hordes that desecrate our faith and traditions.

Rest in peace our fallen heroes! Heaven was waiting for righteous warriors like you.

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