UAE forces leave Yemen’s port city of Aden

It comes before the expected signing of an agreement between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council

ABU DHABI, 30th October, 2019 (WAM) -- The General Command of the UAE Armed Forces has announced the return of its troops from the Aden Governorate in Yemen after having successfully accomplished their role in liberating and stabilising Aden, and transferring its charge to Saudi and Yemeni forces, who will now maintain the security and stability of the Governorate.

The UAE troops were received by Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, and Lt. General Hamad Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces. Wam

As UAE’s forces leave Yemen’s port city of Aden, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash praised the military for completing their task with "honour, pride and sacrifice."

Tweeting on Thursday ahead of the expected signing of a joint agreement between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council over control of the city, he praised the UAE military.

"This is the victory force and the vanguard of the liberated triumphal liberation. They liberated Aden and saved it and its surroundings from the clutches of the Houthis,” he said.

A UAE official confirmed to The National on Thursday that while the bulk of forces have now left Yemen, a number will remain to maintain counter-terrorism operations as well as to support humanitarian and development work.

Officials have said on multiple occasions that the focus of the UAE in Yemen has been to support the internationally recognised government, train and arm local forces, prevent the spread of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as well as other terror groups and deliver humanitarian assistance and support.

On Wednesday evening, UAE army chiefs announced the return of soldiers serving in Aden.

The military also released images of soldiers being welcomed back to the UAE by Mohammed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, as well as Lt Gen Hamad Al Rumaithi, chief of staff of the Emirati Armed forces.

Yemen’s President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi and Gen Aidrous Al Zoubaidi, the leader of the Southern Transitional Council, are expected to sign a power-sharing agreement in a ceremony in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, on Sunday.

A source told The National that the signing ceremony will be attended by high ranking Arab officials and the United Nations special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths.

Mansour Saleh, deputy of the STC’s media department, said the agreement is the fruit of tireless efforts by the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“We look on this agreement positively and optimistically as it has achieved a set of demands that we have repeatedly call for,” Mr Saleh said.

“The agreement will achieve peace and stability in the liberated provinces and accelerates the battle to end the Houthi presence and lead the country towards a better future.”

Saudi Arabian forces have arrived in Aden over the last few days to replace UAE forces. They will be in charge of securing the city and its nearby coastline as well as combating terrorism alongside the Yemeni forces previously trained by the UAE.

The UAE’s central command said in a statement released on state news agency WAM on Wednesday that their forces had completed the handover process.

The statement added that the UAE forces would resume, jointly with their allies, their fight against terrorist forces in South Yemen and other regions.

Col Wathah Al Dubiash, spokesperson of the joint forces in Hodeidah, said that despite pulling the majority of its troops from Aden and some areas in Hodeidah, the UAE forces will not leave Yemen completely.

“Some troops will remain in Hodeidah to take part in the antiterrorism operations,” he said.

Earlier this week, UAE forces in Hodeidah handed the island of Zukar, in the southern Red Sea, to the Yemeni coast guards forces.