- U.A.E. to monitor political arrangements, empowering Yemenis
- War is seen as a proxy conflict between Iran, Gulf Arab States
The war in Yemen is “practically” over for the United Arab Emirates’ ground forces, a government official said, signaling that the second-largest partner in a Saudi Arabia led-coalition is winding down its military involvement in the fight against Shiite rebels.
“We’re monitoring political arrangements, empowering Yemenis in liberated areas,” said Anwar Gargash, the U.A.E.’s minister of state for foreign affairs. “Our standpoint today is clear: war is over for our troops.” He later said on Twitter that U.A.E. troops would continue alongside Saudi Arabia “until the coalition announces the end of the war.”
Saudi Arabia and its allies are banking on peace talks in Kuwait between Houthi rebels and the Gulf-backed government to end the war in the poorest Arab country. The conflict has often been portrayed as a proxy confrontation between the Sunni-led Gulf Arab monarchies and Shiite-ruled Iran. The kingdom and the Islamic Republic are already on opposite ends of Middle East conflicts from Lebanon to Iraq and Syria.
Saudi Arabia, the champion of Sunni Islam in the Middle East, assembled a military coalition in March last year to help restore the rule of President Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi. The campaign began with airstrikes, followed by the deployment of Saudi and U.A.E. troops. More than a year into the campaign, while the Houthis and their allies have lost control in southern Yemen, they still hold the capital, Sana’a, as well as other regions in the north.
Yemen accounted for a quarter of conflict-related displacement globally last year, with 2.2 million people fleeing their homes, the Norwegian Refugee Council said in a report last month.
Gargash defended his country’s involvement in Yemen, which the United Nations says killed more than 6,000 people. Gulf states, he said, had to take a “decisive move” to counter the growing Iranian support for the Houthis.
Gargash’s earlier remarks were tweeted by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.