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UAE Pullout From Yemen Less About Peace, More About War With Iran

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Written by Finian Cunningham; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

The surprise pullout of troops and warplanes from Yemen by the United Arab Emirates has been interpreted as a “peace move”, or at least a tacit admission of defeat. But, more plausibly, the timing of the withdrawal seems more to do with the UAE redeploying forces at the behest of the United States in order to ramp up military pressure on Iran.

The UAE has been a major actor in the US-backed Arab military coalition, along with Saudi Arabia, which has been waging a war in Yemen for the past four years to oust the Houthi rebel government in Sanaa. The Emiratis and Saudi Arabia want to reinstall an exiled clique which the Houthis kicked out of Yemen at the end of 2014. The US, Britain and France have backed the anti-Houthi coalition with massive arms supplies and logistics for a relentless air war campaign.

UAE Pullout From Yemen Less About Peace, More About War With Iran

Despite the relative lack of Western media coverage of the conflict, Yemen has become widely seen as a horrendous humanitarian disaster. Nearly half its population of 24 million are suffering from critical food and water shortages. The Western-backed coalition has also been blamed for war crimes from indiscriminate air strikes on civilian centers. The war has been described as an “un-winnable quagmire” for the Saudis and Emiratis, not unlike Vietnam was for the Americans.

So, when an Emirati official was quoted last week as saying the withdrawal from Yemen was motivated by bolstering a United Nations-sponsored peace plan, a more skeptical reading would be that the UAE simply wants to get out of a futile and costly war. Thus the move is less about peace and more about saving face for the Emiratis. But there also seems to be a bigger geopolitical picture concerning US designs to confront Iran.

It is reported that the Saudis are not happy about the Emiratis turning their back on active involvement in the war. Understandably too, because the Saudis will have to deploy more financial resources and forces to fill the gap left behind. The Yemen quagmire can only get deeper and more miserable for the Saudis. That suggests Riyadh is being left in the lurch.

Although the UAE is aligned with Saudi Arabia as part of the pro-US Gulf Arab monarchies, including Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, there are nevertheless petty rivalries for power and regional influence. Saudi Arabia is often resented for its overbearing dominance by the other smaller oil-rich emirates. The Saudi-UAE blockade on Qatar over the past two years is a case in point where the former pair are trying to put the latter in its place over perceived competitive interests.

The UAE rulers would appear to be closest to the hardline Wahhabi Saudis in terms of sharing a vehement hostility towards Shia Iran.

However, given that the impetuous Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is reckoned to have launched the war in Yemen based on an ill-thought-out campaign that was supposed to last for a few weeks, not years, it can be surmised that the Emiratis would only be too glad to let the young royal rue the day for his rash egotism.

In addition, the Emiratis seem to be positioning themselves for a greater regional role by extricating their forces from Yemen. This is less about bolstering peace in Yemen and more about giving itself a freer hand to gain dominance at Saudi expense.

On the news of the pullout last week, the US-based think tank ran an article with this telling headline: ‘Yemen: The UAE Trades Its Involvement in the Yemen Conflict for a Stronger Regional Posture’.

The timing is also significant. Not coincidently, it seems, the UAE announced withdrawal comes just as the US is pushing for a new naval coalition force to deploy in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, purportedly to “counter Iranian aggression” and to “safeguard” international commercial shipping.

Mike Milley, the nominated top US General who is due to take over from Major General Joseph Dunford as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate confirmation hearing panel last week that the proposed coalition is scheduled to shape up in the “next couple of weeks”.

The Pentagon will have overall command of the naval forces, which will comprise only Washington’s regional allies. The move seems to be a reckless escalation of US-led military forces in the Persian Gulf amid already-combustible tensions with Iran.

A string of sabotage incidents on oil tankers in the Gulf carried out by unknown assailants, as well as a shoot-down of a US spy drone by Iran, strongly suggests that the Trump administration is secretly planning for a military confrontation with Tehran. The Trump White House has said it doesn’t want war nor is seeking regime change in Iran, but all the indicators point to the opposite conclusion.

If the US is indeed lining up for a military strike on Iran, then it would require its regional allies to be mobilized as part of a coalition. The naval coalition being proposed by the Pentagon thus takes on a sinister implication, in spite of the apparently benign “freedom of navigation” claims invoked as its purpose.

The abrupt pullout of UAE forces from Yemen may therefore be less about giving peace a chance, or even about cutting and running from a futile, un-winnable war. Instead, the Emiratis seem to be reconfiguring their forces do Washington’s bidding for a war on Iran.

After all, the Gulf Arab propaganda claims that the Houthi rebels in Yemen are “Iranian proxies”. For them, Yemen has always been about challenging Iran. Pulling forces to redeploy with the US in the Gulf may seem a more appealing, if high-risk, direct way to confront Iran. Furthermore, the UAE gets to play top dog over their petty Saudi rival in pleasing Uncle Sam.

Unfortunately, peace is not about to break out in Yemen because of the UAE military pullout. More ominously, the wider reconfiguration of forces in the region could mean a much bigger and disastrous war breaking out with Iran.

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  • Tommy Jensen

    See what I said?

  • Barba_Papa

    The Emiratis doing the US bidding and reconfiguring their forces for war with Iran? The Emiratis don’t do the bidding of another country, and certainly not go to war for them. They let the US fight that war for them. They’ll give some tacit support once the war with Iran comes, but when it comes it will be the US and US alone who will do the actual fighting. If the war in Yemen has taught Saudi Arabia and the UAE anything is that they both suck at fighting a determined opponent. And Iran is way better armed then the Houthis are and maybe not as doggedly determined as the Houthis still way way way more the spoiled and pampered Saudi and UAE princelings. Plus Iranian long range weaponry is also far superior to the ramshackle improvisations that the Houthis fire at them.

    • klove and light

      u r missing 1 Major Point… as told to us all by the persian generals…..

      if war starts(ofcourse it is the USA doing 99% of Fighting) then Entitys such as UAE or Bahrain will literally vanish in less than 1 month! period!

      ps. as Long as the war stays conventional(it wont for that reason im pointing out), than not even a combined army of France , uk, and USA have an 1% Chance of Winning it against persia for one simple Logical reason..

      persia(Iran) 1.648.000 km2

      all bases combined of French,uk and USA bases dont even have 0.1% area of Irans Nation.

      that is like playing that old game of sinking ships, were as Player A has 100 ships each with 5 hitting Areas, and Player B has 2 ships with 3 Areas to hit.
      who will win???

      and here exactly lies the danger for all of us.That These pschopaths will go nuclear , after getting their asses kicked majorly.

      ps. please please check out the following Name:

      Scott Stearney…… he was Vice Admiral and COMMANDER of the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain.
      He was murdered on december 1. 2018 (About 8 months ago) in Bahrain.
      take a wild quess WHY?????????

    • klove and light

      Breaking News….here u have trumps/Zionist psychopaths minds… 22.07.2019

      “I could win that war in a week. Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth… literally in 10 days,” Trump said on Monday, as he met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House.
      I don’t want to go that route,” the president added. “I don’t want to kill 10 million people.”

      • Icarus Tanović

        Okay, lets kill 10 million airwasting, waterpoluting cockroaches zionistic wahhabis, why not? No? Because they are serving us from 1978 very well. That’s why, otherwise they’d pretty much done it.

    • FlorianGeyer

      If the US ends up ‘doing the fighting’ , she will also end up with ‘doing a lot of the dying as well’. :)

      Britain has a shiny new aircraft carrier of course. It leaks a bit and has just been flooded in ten compartments, but it looks impressive, even without aircraft :)

      • AM Hants

        Still laughing at the poor new carrier. Refit, before commissioned, owing to the dodgy pipework. Now, being fixed, yet, again and how old is she? Still on ‘sea trials’. That is before you get started on the missing aircrafts.

        • Icarus Tanović

          Her Majesty will have ti masturbate on this aircraft carrier to work.

          • AM Hants

            Too much information haha.

      • John Wallace

        John Kerry admitted under heavy questioning in some Senate hearing that Saudi Arabia had offered too PAY the US ALL costs for their war against Iran on their behalf. That suggests that SA would do little more than pay lip service backing America while America did all the fighting and as you say most if not all the dying by the replaceable by the poor, US military volunteers. .

        • FlorianGeyer

          What the current Saudi’s Royals fail to appreciate is the fact that without Iran the Saudi’s would be less valuable as the US warlords of choice, especially with all the advanced US weapons in ‘sand nigger hands’ that worries the Israelis.

          There would be many wannabe warlords willing to suppress the Saudi population for far less of a bribe than the current gang extracts.

          The US would be able to extract the oil on more favourable terms as well.

  • klove and light

    hahahahahaahahahahahahaahahahahahahaahahahahahaha

    UAE.. Tiny fake created by british, bullshit degenerate Entity wants to fight PERSIA????

    lolololololololololololoolololololololooloolool……….

    tooooooo bad, that war for UAE will only last 1 week!!!!

  • Rhodium 10

    UAE vs Iran..means Dubai on fire…as consecuence of ballistic/cruise missile attacks.

  • Garga

    We need to consider a couple of point when we’re talking about UAE.
    It is not a real country as we all know it. The British joined 7 sheikdoms by the waist and called them a country. It’s 6 absolute monarchies ruled over by another one. There’s no election and no council as far as the population is concerned, and even between the 7 rulers, counseling is non existent.
    These emirates are in fact city-states, yes, the one who belongs to medieval times. 6 emirates (alphabetically: Ajman, Dunai, Fujairah, Ra’s al-Kheymah,Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain) have no say in defence, foreign relations and intelligence and these matters are controlled by AbuDhabi, along with another petty matter such as oil revenue.

    Of the 7, AbuDhabi is the wealthiest (oil) and then Dubai (commerce, kick started by sanctioning Iran in the 1980’s which turned it into the entry gate for the goods going to Iran). Sharjah is somehow better than the rest, due to proximity to Dubai and recently Fujairah became important because it’s located on the other side of the strait of Hormuz.
    So, the UAE’s actual ruler’s wealth comes from oil, not commerce, production or anything else and as the article points out, there’s petty rivalry not only between KSA and UAE, but also a more pathetic one among these emirates. So, AbuDhabi rulers don’t mind if Dubai gets weakened or even loses it’s current status. What is important to them is the flow of oil and it’s where Fujairah (and Iranian islands) come into play.
    AbuDhabi even attempted and still is attempting to capture the southern Yemen, either Aden or Socotra island to create a rival to Dubai, It’s closer to major shipping lines and cuts the distance by a good 1000 kms or so.

    Both oil flow and commerce are affected by the security concerns in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf and a conflict in them, oil’s price goes up and commerce goes down. A hot war will ruin Dubai, no doubt about that but is it something AbuDhabi care’s about? By engaging others like US/NATO in a war with Iran, they think they can score a few birds with one stone:
    – Weaken other emirates so their position as the ruler gets more secure.
    – Hurt other rivals like Qatar badly. It’s the home of the US Navy’s 5th fleet and a legitimate target for Iran’s retaliation. The same goes for KSA.
    – Weaken Iran, something they don’t dream of achieving by themselves. Without constant sanctions and hostility, Iran’s position is such a strong one, no other country around PG is able to compete it.
    – Make Iran too busy fighting the US and they think they can use it to invade and capture the Iranian islands (Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, AbuMusa). The shipping lanes in the PG passes between these aslands due to water depth and anyone can effectively control it with these islands.
    Their own oil industry will hurt badly, but it can be repaired, given enough time and money. They think they can withstand some destructions and after the conflict emerge as the controlling power of the region.
    We also should note despite the news of withdrawal, Emirati forces are still present in Aden and Socotra, destroying it’s unique natural world heritage by constructing bases and installations.

    Will they succeed? No way in hell but it’s been sometimes that the most of the world’s leaders are a bunch of morons with no pragmatism or rational thinking.

    (I may return and edit a few things or add a couple of more notes)

    • FlorianGeyer

      Another part of the equation is the joint statement by the Presidents of Russia and China that they will NOT allow Iran to be destroyed.

      Coupled with that is the fact that the US is totally inept at understanding the religious and political fault lines in any conflict :)

      • IMHO

        I’ll believe Russia and China when I see action instead of talk.

        • FlorianGeyer

          They have to take action if a war does break out. Not to do so would be an end to the resurgence of China and Russia.

        • Ivan Freely

          I believe Russia more than China. So far Russia have stepped up in Syria and Venezuela. China have yet to do anything of significance besides token humanitarian aid or investments.

    • Jakke1899

      Thank you for shedding a new light on this delicate matter.

    • d’Artagnan

      Good summation. UAE was created by the British imperialists as an outpost for regional instability. On its own, UAE would last perhaps 2 hours against Iran or anyone for than matter. It is corrupt to the core.

  • RichardD

    This is obviously a smart move on the part of the UAE to cut their losses. It follows the Egyptian decision not to commit ground forces to the Yemen war. Which was another smart move. Especially with their own domestic issues and Libya being a complete basket case next door. Rather than waste money and resources on a Yinon plan war to keep the region in perpetual turmoil.

    The vermin Jew would be overjoyed to see Egypt destroy itself with foolish foreign military adventures. Rather than develop into a regional economic and military powerhouse that poses a genuine threat to Israel. Which is what Egypt is developing into now with it’s massive economic development and military upgrade program.