Yemen’s UAE war and lessons learned from it

Lessons from Yemen's UAE War

The civil war in Yemen has dragged on for years, and after the Saudi and UAE intervention in 2015, the destruction and suffering there has intensified.

I conducted four trips in 2018 to “embed” troops in Yemen with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I stayed with them, ate with them, interviewed them, and noted that they were working on every battlefield they had. As a consequence, when I got the news on July 8 that the UAE would start a phased withdrawal of its army troops from Yemen, I had mixed feelings with the remainder of the globe, Says Daniel Byman.

On the one side, after five years of ongoing activities in Yemen, the Emirates deserve rest. The UAE is not a big nation and retains less than 20,000 soldiers deployable land power. Approximately 3,500 UAE troops were stationed in Yemen, with almost 3,000 extra UAE airmen, marines and soldiers working in immediate offshore assistance and adjacent areas. At any given moment about a sixth of the entire fighting force in the country was at war, and the commanders with whom I worked had been deployed almost continuously since the start of the war in 2015. The Emiratis believe from their perspective— with excellent reason —that they stopped the Houthi militants from seizing most of Yemen and, at the same time, prevented al-Qaeda from establishing its biggest territorial caliphate after it broke into the harbor of Mukalla in 2015.

However, the withdrawal started while Yemen remains extremely vulnerable. The cement has not laid on the UAE’s profits in clearing Houthi militants and al-Qaeda from Yemen’s big swaths and restoring a semblance of functioning governance. This is evident in the present interfactional struggle in Aden’s second biggest town in Yemen. Local tribes championing southern Yemeni autonomy have been involved in intense combat since August 7 with army forces faithful to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s globally acknowledged central government. A UAE battlegroup had previously mainly held a cloak on significant conflicts between armed organizations affiliated with the Houthis, but now that restraining factor is absent.


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