Yemeni and UAE troops head north
The Strait of Hormuz north of Ras Al Khaimah is one of the most significant potential choke points for global commerce. With so much of the world’s oil coming out of countries overlooking the Arabian Sea, free navigation through the strait is important to stability and security. The same is true of another vital, narrow passageway at the other end of the Arabian Peninsula: Bab El Mandeb.
Lying between Yemen and the Horn of Africa, this strait is vital to oil and global trade. Without it, tankers would not be able to reach the Suez Canal and Europe without going all the way around the African continent. It is precisely because of this that the Yemeni army backed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has fought so hard to ensure that the Bab remains open, that ships are not attacked as they pass through there and that the Houthi rebels who have sought to dominate that region are not able to blackmail countries.
Over the weekend, the coalition took a vital step towards ending Houthi presence along the Red Sea, when they pushed the last remaining rebels out of the Dhubab region. The region is a vital staging post on the way to the strategically important city of Mokha. The coalition will now turn its sights to the city.
The UAE played an important role in liberating Dhubab. The commander of the Fourth Region of the Yemeni army, Major General Ahmed Saif Al Yafei, said UAE troops had provided great assistance to Yemeni forces.
The danger of the Houthi rebels to shipping should not be underestimated. In October last year, a UAE ship carrying injured civilians from Aden was attacked by the rebels while travelling near the strait. These sorts of incidents cause jitters across the world economy and show the lengths that the Houthi rebels will go to destabilise Yemen and the economy of the region.
Even now, as the coalition advances, the rebels and supporters of the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh remain intransigent. They still occupy the capital Sanaa and refuse to accept the legitimacy of Yemen’s president Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi. The result of this rebellion has been destructive for the people of Yemen and for the future of their country. But piece by piece, the Arab coalition is intent on reversing the gains of the Houthis.
Published: January 14, 2017 04:00 AM