UAE not leaving war-torn Yemen despite withdrawal, says minister

Anwar Gargash says UAE and rest of Saudi-led coalition will maintain military presence in Yemen.

    UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said Houthis should see the UAE troops' withdrawal as a 'confidence-building measure to create new momentum to end the conflict' [File: Waleed Ali/Reuters]
    UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said Houthis should see the UAE troops' withdrawal as a 'confidence-building measure to create new momentum to end the conflict' [File: Waleed Ali/Reuters]

    The United Arab Emirates (UAE), part of a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen, is not leaving the war-torn country despite an ongoing withdrawal and redeployment of Emirati forces, a senior official has said. 

    "Just to be clear, the UAE and the rest of the coalition are not leaving Yemen," Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in an opinion piece published on Monday in The Washington Post.

    "While we will operate differently, our military presence will remain. In accordance with international law, we will continue to advise and assist local Yemen forces."

    The UAE is a key partner in the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Houthi rebels.

    Earlier this month, the UAE announced it was drawing down and redeploying troops in Yemen.

    Emirati officials have stressed the UAE is not leaving a vacuum in Yemen, saying it trained about 90,000 local fighters and remains committed to the coalition and the deposed Yemeni government.

    After the UAE troops' withdrawal, Saudi Arabia moved in to secure two strategic Red Sea ports and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

    Gargash said Houthis should see the UAE move as a "confidence-building measure to create new momentum to end the conflict".

    "As the United Arab Emirates draws down and redeploys its forces in Yemen, we do so in the same way we began - with eyes wide open," he said.

    "There was no easy victory and there will be no easy peace. But now is the time to double down on the political process."

    The warring sides have fought to a stalemate, and several rounds of UN-sponsored talks, the last held in Sweden in December, have failed to implement any deal to end the war.

    After four years of fighting, the Houthis still control much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.

    Since 2015, tens of thousands of people - mostly civilians - have been killed in the conflict. 

    The fighting has triggered what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 3.3 million people displaced and 24.1 million - more than two-thirds of the population - in need of aid.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies