UAE scales down’large’ number of troops from Yemen
The United Arab Emirates, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition, backed by the US, waging a war on Yemen, is scaling back its military presence there as worsening U.S.-Iran tensions threaten security closer to home, four western diplomatic sources said.
The withdrawal took place because Abu Dhabi wanted to have forces and equipment “on hand” following recent tensions in the Persian Gulf region, Reuters cited four unnamed Western diplomats as saying on Friday.
“It is true that there have been some troop movements … but it is not a redeployment from Yemen,” a senior Emirati official told Reuters, adding that the UAE remains fully committed to the military coalition and “will not leave a vacuum” in Yemen.
The official would not provide details on the movements, the numbers involved or specify whether it was happening inside or outside Yemen.
The tensions come after the United States ratcheted up its rhetoric against Iran, announcing the deployment of additional troop deployments to the Persian Gulf region in order to counter an unspecified “threat” from Iran in early May.
It is not clear how many Emirati forces are in Yemen. One Western diplomat said the UAE withdrew “a lot” of forces from the Arabian Peninsula nation over the last three weeks.
In the past two months, the Yemeni forces have launched an array of missile and drone attacks on vital Saudi facilities, including oil installations, airports and air defense batteries in response to incessant Saudi-led strikes on the country.
In March 2015, the US -backed –Saudi-led coalition started a war against Yemen with the declared aim of crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement, who had taken over from the staunch Riyadh ally and fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, while also seeking to secure the Saudi border with its southern neighbor. Three years and over 600,000 dead and injured Yemeni people and prevented the patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country, the war has yielded little to that effect.
The coalition, which includes in addition to Saudi Arabia and UAE: Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Kuwait, has been also imposing a harsh blockade against Yemenis.