Why did we go to Yemen? To counter threats to our region

What the Arabic press is saying about the UAE’s participation in the Yemen campaign

The giant flag near Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall flies at half-mast during the three-day mourning period. Ravindranath K / The National
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As the Arab coalition wages the battle for Sanaa as part of the Yemen campaign, the UAE mourns its martyrs. Many are asking why the UAE had to venture into Yemen. Well, pre-emption seems to be the answer for this intervention.

“Why did we go to Yemen? So that Yemen does not come to us,” wrote Mohamed Al Hammadi, editor-in-chief of the Abu Dhabi newspaper Al Ittihad, the sister publication of The National. “Simply put, this is the answer.

He added: “The UAE joined the Arab coalition in Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia, to ward off accumulated problems in the country and prevent terrorist groups such as ISIL, Al Qaeda and the Houthis from rising and spreading further in the region.

“The UAE went to Yemen to protect its national security. Our soldiers and heroes went to the front lines in Yemen because we realised the span and gravity of the plans to subvert the security and stability of Yemen and subsequently undermine the security and stability of the region.

“The aim was to protect the security of our country and that of our region, by protecting Yemen and restoring its legitimacy, security and stability.”

Explaining further, the writer said that we must realise that the concept of national security has changed in the new millennium.

“A modern state,” he stressed, “does not wait for the enemy to come and knock on the door. It rather analyses the danger by studying the enemy’s location and other aspects and takes pre-emptive action.

“This is what those who consider the intervention of the coalition as an interference or deplore the military action against a party that has committed atrocities in Yemen, fail to see.

“More than a decade ago, the United States did the same when it felt its national security was at stake. It sent its troops to Afghanistan and Iraq to take the necessary action,” Al Hammadi wrote. “It realised the intensity of the threat and acted accordingly.

“The mischiefs the enemy had been causing in this region had to be tackled. They had the audacity to claim that they controlled the capitals of four Arab states and that they would continue to expand their reach.

“The aim is to crush those dreams with military might. However, there is no room for complacency as the danger has not gone away. So we must stay alert.

“This is why our soldiers are in Yemen and this is why they are sacrificing their lives,” Al Hammadi noted. “To all those who still don’t understand why we went to Yemen, we can only say: ‘This is your problem’.” More importantly, “our soldiers know why they are there”.

In the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, Yusuf Al Dayni noted that the rise of a Sunni opposition based on political Islam and that of extremist and “Qaedist” organisations has led to the deterioration of security, stimulating the illegal weapons market.

It has also led to a revival of radical Shiite groups in the region, such Hizbollah and the Houthis.

“Similarities in the approaches of both parties explain the intensity of the threat,” he said.

“The coalition must remain in Yemen even after the end of their mission, so as to ensure smooth reconstruction. They should break Ali Abdullah Saleh’s legacy of political blocs and regionalism.

“It will require hard work to ensure that Yemen is not left in a vacuum, as was the case with Afghanistan and Iraq after American troops withdrew,” Al Dayni concluded.

* Translated by Carla Mirza