The United Arab Emirates, a key partner in a Saudi-led military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore state and end a coup staged by Houthi rebels, said Monday it was working on redeploying and reducing the number of troops in war-torn Yemen and moving from a “military-first” strategy to a “peace-first” plan.
“We do have troop levels that are down for reasons that are strategic in (the Red Sea city of) Hodeida and reasons that are tactical” in other parts of the country, a senior UAE official, who requested anonymity, told reporters.
“It is very much to do with moving from what I would call a military-first strategy to a peace-first strategy, and this is I think what we are doing.”
The official, however, reiterated the UAE’s commitment to the Yemeni government and the Saudi-led coalition, saying discussions on redeployment have been ongoing for more than a year.
“This is not really a last-minute decision. This is part of the process and naturally a process within the coalition that´s been discussed extensively with our partners, the Saudis,” he said.
According to a Yemeni military government official, UAE troops fighting the Houthis have “totally vacated” the military base in Khokha, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Hodeida.
The UAE withdrew part of its heavy artillery from Khokha but was — along with the Saudi-led coalition and the government — still overseeing the military situation in Yemen’s western coast, he said on Monday.