A research fellow at the Washington Institute for Studies said the UAE’s gradual withdrawal from Yemen constitutes a strategic shift that might isolate Saudi Arabia in the country.
The move, Elana DeLozier, a research fellow in the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at the Institute, explained is recognition by Abu Dhabi that it can no longer “sustain militarily, financially, and most important politically any longer at the current state of bloody impasse”.
“The UAE’s decision is almost certainly causing tension with Riyadh, which must now rethink its own approach to the war. Previously, the Emiratis swallowed their war fatigue and stayed the course in order to maintain a united front with the Saudis. That mindset was in line with standard cultural predispositions about fealty but seems to have changed for one reason or another, threatening to expose rifts and create additional tension during a time of heightened sensitivity in the Gulf. U.S. officials should engage actively with both parties and the Yemeni government to help formulate an agreed way forward and ward off any potential long-term Emirati-Saudi disputes,” DeLozier wrote.
She added that “despite maintaining a common public face, their forces in Yemen generally do not operate in tandem, instead splitting their responsibilities. The Saudis usually run operations in the north while the Emiratis run operations in the south, and when one enters the opposite zone, the other leaves.”