The UAE’s Role in the Yemen Crisis



This chapter analyzes the UAE’s aims in Yemen in the light of its relationships with major allies, drawing on conversations with British, US, Saudi, and UAE contacts. The UAE was an active participant in the transition following the 2011 uprising and brought its military skills, experience, and ability to improvise to the Saudi-led coalition to prevent Yemen coming under Houthi control and Iranian influence and to stop al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) from acquiring a safe haven. Its main focus was on the south, where it developed local security forces to provide security but lacked confidence in President Hadi and refused to work with Islah party leaders. In 2018, it took a leading role in plans to attack the Red Sea port of al-Hodeida, but in 2019 withdrew from the war in the north. Throughout, the UAE has worked closely with Saudi Arabia and its Western allies, whose objectives were not always identical, causing the UAE to make difficult choices. Despite the UAE’s military and security successes against AQAP, the Houthis have not been defeated and Iranian and Islah influences have grown. Southern separatists are now well organized and control powerful militias, which will complicate any post-war settlement.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Menas AssociatesLondonUK

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