A junior minister in the United Arab Emirates has stepped back from previous comments attributed to him that the country’s role in the Saudi-led war in Yemen was “over”.
The remarks made by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash on Friday came as peace talks underway in Kuwait City have yet to end the war, where Shia rebels known as Houthis still hold the capital of Sanaa.
“We are at war. I am appalled that my statement was taken out of context and misinterpreted for [an] external agenda that seek to undermine the region and the [Gulf Cooperation Council] in particular,” Gargash said.
Gargash’s comments first came to light via a tweet on Wednesday from Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan,the deputy supreme commander of the country’s military.
Sheikh Mohammed’s tweet quoted Gargash as having said the war was “over for our troops” during a private lecture at a royal gathering.
The UAE, which has one of the best-equipped militaries in the region, has seen more than 80 of its soldiers killed since the military campaign began in March 2015, according to Emirati government media reports.
The UAE has been among the most active members of the military campaign launched by Saudi Arabia and its allies in March 2015 to support exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The war has left about 9,000 people dead, a third of them civilians, according to the United Nations.