The United Arab Emirates, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition waging an aggression on Yemen, is scaling back its military presence there as worsening U.S.-Iran tensions threaten security closer to home, four western diplomatic sources said.
The UAE has pulled some troops from the southern port of Aden and Yemen’s western coast, two of the diplomats said, areas where the Gulf state has built up and armed local militias who are leading the battle against the Yemenis along the Red Sea coast.
“It is true that there have been some troop movements … but it is not a redeployment from Yemen,” a senior Emirati official told Reuters, adding that the UAE remains fully committed to the military coalition and “will not leave a vacuum” in Yemen.
The official would not provide details on the movements, the numbers involved or specify whether it was happening inside or outside Yemen.
Yemen has been since March 2015 under brutal aggression by Saudi-led coalition, in a bid to restore control to fugitive president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who is Riyadh’s ally.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and injured in the strikes launched by the coalition, with the vast majority of them are civilians.
The coalition, which includes in addition to Saudi Arabia and UAE: Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Kuwait, has been also imposing a harsh blockade against Yemenis.