Clashing UAE interest in Yemen

The UAE is primarily interested in controlling south Yemen, particularly Aden and its strategic port.

The UAE has been a dominant partner in the coalition Saudi Arabia , but it has also charted its own course by establishing and supporting local militia groups in the south.

The irony here is that even Saudi Arabia and the UAE are, too, acting as proxies for the US and Western countries in slicing up Yemen. The UAE seems oblivious to the fact that the south cannot have its own political identity, simply because Yemenis regardless of what part of Yemen they are from share a collective and ancient Yemeni identity even before the modern Yemen state was founded.

Although the UAE’s withdrawal, it neither suspends Abu Dhabi’s role in the coalition nor curtails Emirati influence on the ground. The bedrock of the UAE’s “Peace First” strategy is a switch from direct to indirect engagement in the country through increased reliance on local proxies and partners.

Earlier, Ministry of Fisheries in Sana’a government condemned the systematic looting of fisheries by the countries of Saudi Arabia and UAE in the country’s territorial waters.

“The UAE regime continues its violations in Yemen,” it added ,”a fleet of [Emirati] vessels continues to tamper with the Yemeni marine wealth”.

“The Emirati vessels are illegally fishing and their violations continue in the Yemeni waters and more recently in the western Socotra Archipelago and in the Arabian Sea,” The Ministry said.

The fisheries sector in Yemen provides employment opportunities for more than half a million individuals, who in turn support 1.7 million and make up 18% of the coastal population of 9.4 million. Fishing is thus a major source of income, an important sector for job creation, and a key tributary of the economy. Yemeni fisheries are a vital component of the livelihood of Yemeni citizens and a major source of food security.

The UAE’s strategy has been premised on its ties to southern actors, especially the Southern Transitional Council, a coalition of separatists. The UAE has also mobilized, trained and equipped southern militias.

The UAE also supports Tariq Saleh, a nephew of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who leads military units previously loyal to his late uncle.

By 2019, the UAE had come to believe that the costs of its involvement in Yemen outweighed the benefits, and that this negative cost-benefit ratio might worsen in the future, but understood that the way ahead would likely become increasingly difficult.