Yemen: UAE to reduce troop presence

Emirati official says move part of transition from military to ‘peace-first’ strategy and Saudi Arabia was consulted!!

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced it will reduce its troop presence throughout war-torn Yemen, moving from a “military-first” to a “peace-first” strategy.

The Gulf state pulled out some of its forces from areas including the southern port of Aden and the western coast, an unnamed UAE official was quoted by news agencies as saying on Monday.

“We do have troop levels that are down for reasons that are strategic in [the Red Sea city] of Hodeidah and reasons that are tactical,” the official said.

“It is very much to do with moving from what I would call a military-first strategy to a peace-first strategy.”

An unnamed Yemeni military official confirmed UAE soldiers “totally vacated” the military base in Khokha, about 130km south of the key western port of Hodeidah.

Troops’ movements in other areas of Yemen are “tactical and based on our needs”, the UAE official said.

“We are not worried about a vacuum in Yemen, because we have trained a total of 90,000 Yemeni forces,” he said. “This is one of our major successes in Yemen.”

The conflict in Yemen broke out in late 2014 when Houthi rebels seized much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.

The war escalated in March 2015 when a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched a fierce air campaign against the rebels in a bid to restore the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The UAE official emphasised on his country’s continued support for Saudi Arabia, saying discussions on troops’ movements had been coordinated for more than a year.

“This is not really a last-minute decision. This is part of the process within the coalition that’s been discussed extensively with our partners, the Saudis.”