The UAE has pulled some of its forces from Yemen’s southern port city of Aden yesterday, officials and witnesses have reported.
According to Reuters, two officials said that an Emirati convoy boarded a naval vessel at Buraiqa oil terminal near the Aden refinery. Four employees at the refinery claimed to have witnessed a large convoy of military vehicles and three buses carrying around 200 troops heading towards the terminal.
Furthermore, RT Arabic said that a large number of UAE and Sudanese forces withdrew from Al-And Air Base, the largest in Yemen and situated in the province of Lahj, 60km north of Aden.
The Saudi-backed Yemeni government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) are reportedly close to negotiating a handover of the city — which the STC aspire to be the capital of a future South Yemen state – back to the Yemeni government after having seized control with UAE support back in August. Saudi Arabia has expressed a willingness to include the STC in the government.
Aden had served as the interim capital for Hadi’s government which had been expelled by the Houthi movement that has controlled the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, since 2014. Last month, Hadi announced that the government has an interim capital in the city of Ataq.
In spite of the withdrawal of the UAE forces and the supposed imminent handover, there have been reports of UAE-backed mercenaries, notably the “Giants Brigades”, relocating from the country’s west coast towards Aden.
The issue of Aden has caused friction within the anti-Houthi coalition, of which both Saudi Arabia and UAE are partners.