Spotlight: UAE continues anti-terror fight in Yemen after military pullout

Forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) completed their military pullout from Yemen’s southern port city of Aden following five years of participation in the fighting against the Iran-allied Houthi rebels.

The General Command of the UAE Armed Forces said in a statement that the UAE troops have achieved their goal of “liberating the region” and the responsibility for maintaining security has been transferred to Yemeni and Saudi Arabian troops.

“The forces armed and trained the Yemeni forces in a way that would enable them to discharge their military responsibilities independently,” the military said.

But the UAE, an active member of the Saudi-led Arab coalition, said it would continue to fight terror groups in the impoverished Arab country during the upcoming period.

UAE’s military withdrawal from Aden came in the wake of a deal to end the power struggle between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC).

Saudi Arabia that leads the anti-Houthi military campaign increased its military presence and deployed heavy forces backed by armored vehicles across Aden after the withdrawal of the UAE forces.

Key state institutions, including the country’s presidential palace, the government’s headquarters and the international airport, are secured by the Saudi forces that arrived recently in the city.

Experts based in Yemen’s Aden believe the UAE won’t leave a chance for the terror groups to expand in the country’s southern regions following the withdrawal of its troops.

“During the upcoming period, the mission of the UAE forces will be concentrated on fighting the terrorist elements who are still seeking to seize areas in the southern provinces,” said Mohammed Bin Yahya, a retired Yemeni military official.

“The UAE achieved great success in combating terror groups in Yemen during the past years and it will move to the second phase which is supporting the local security forces to do the task,” he added.

Following the departure of the UAE troops from Aden, several youth activists said the UAE’s military participation in Aden and other southern provinces left an indelible impression on local people.

“The UAE troops left indelible fingerprints in different aspects of the people’s life in southern regions and elsewhere in Yemen,” said Zayed Aljamal, an Aden-based political observer.

“The UAE’s good works and achievements included the education sector, health, humanitarian affairs, security and fighting terrorism in Yemen,” he added.

Yasser Yafeay, a political activist, agreed that the UAE “left Aden after liberating all of the city’s neighborhoods and all state facilities are working in safe a situation.”

The UAE is part of a Saudi-led Arab military coalition that has been fighting the Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen since March 2015.

The impoverished Arab country has been locked in a civil war since late 2014, when the Houthis overran much of the country and seized all northern provinces including the capital Sanaa.

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