Reliable sources have revealed that the de facto ruler of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed, has adopted a new strategy for the country in its war on Yemen, which is based on showing a tactical retreat with greater reliance on armed militias.
Sources told Emirates Leaks that close associates of bin Zayed deliberately leaked news to the Reuters Global News Agency that Abu Dhabi reduced its military presence in Yemen by reducing the number of troops in the country.
The sources pointed out that bin Zayed move aims to reduce public anger and official aggression of the UAE in Yemen and push the strengthening of the militias of Abu Dhabi scattered in different parts of Yemen.
Reuters quoted a senior UAE official as saying that the move did not represent a redeployment of UAE troops in Yemen.
Diplomats said the UAE had withdrawn many of its military equipment and troops stationed in the port of Aden and the western coast of Yemen in preparation for fortifying its internal defenses against potential threats.
Local news media reported that a number of heavy military vehicles – which the UAE had brought to Aden in 2015 (20 tanks and armored vehicles) – had left the port of Aden on ships whose destination was unknown.
In a search for the reasons behind withdrawing the UAE part of its forces in Yemen, a Yemeni government official said this could be a tactic by which Abu Dhabi is trying to improve its image apparently after the calls by Yemeni officials and popular pressure to end the role of the UAE in the Saudi-UAE alliance.
The UAE official said that the UAE is also seeking to leave the door open to its other tools that it supports in Yemen such as the Transitional Council, the security belt and the elite forces in order to continue the escalation of the biggest update of what has happened in the last weeks in Shabwa and Socotra of acts of sabotage and demonstrations against the legitimate government.
On the other hand, Yemeni political analyst Yassin al-Tamimi believes that the reduction of the UAE forces in Aden and the west coast of the country is linked to fears of possible escalation with Iran.
According to al-Tamimi, there are other tactical dimensions that emerge from these reports, especially as they coincide with a violent escalation of the confrontation between the local forces supported by the UAE against the legitimate authority in Socotra and Shabwa, a behavior that indicates the level of the UAE’s interference in the country and its constant confusion.
In fact, it seems that Abu Dhabi suffers from problems related to its reputation, which was badly affected by the war in Yemen and its impact on the rest of the UAE in the economy and politics, according to Yemeni political researcher Adnan Hashim.
Hashem stresses that Abu Dhabi is under tremendous internal pressure to stop its foreign policy, led by the rulers and sheiks of the rest of the UAE.
“The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, has repeated more than once in recent times about the impact of bad decisions on the economy at the same time that the rest of the UAE is angry because most of the people killed in the war in Yemen are from their sons, not from Abu Dhabi, which makes them real pressure for their return.”
For his part, Yemeni military expert Ali al-Dahab said that every six months the soldiers and officers of the UAE forces in Aden are changed, but ruled out that what is happening recently in that framework.
He pointed out that the situation in Aden, where the legitimate government is based, is likely to explode in the coming days, especially as the situation is stalemated between the legitimacy and the formation of the transitional council supported by the UAE.
Al-Dahab added that there is a high expectation of a violent battle inside Aden, which is why the Emiratis are considering withdrawing their forces from the city for fear of being involved in any confrontation and liable to retaliate against anyone.
The military expert ruled out that the pullout would have to do with the recent tension in the region between America and Iran, because the limited UAE forces in Yemen, mostly newly recruited and without sufficient expertise, will not affect their presence very much.
Al-Dahab says the UAE has other means of defense, such as using mercenaries if necessary, but that the battle is expected to be within Yemen, especially in light of the talk of arrangements for the return of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to Aden, who is currently receiving treatment in the United States.
The UAE is a key partner in the Saudi-led Arab alliance, claiming to support the internationally recognized Yemeni government in its war against the Houthis.
Over the four years of the UAE war against Yemen, Abu Dhabi has worked to rob Yemen of its sovereignty and undermine its economy in the service of its declared ambitions to loot the wealth and capabilities of the country.