DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The United Arab Emirates is a country better known for oil riches and skyscraper skylines, but right now it is prosecuting what could be a crucial offensive in the 3-year-old conflict in Yemen. While the overall war in the Arab world's poorest country has been led by Saudi Arabia, the ongoing battle for the Red Sea port city of Hodeida has fallen squarely on the shoulders of the UAE, a U.S.-allied federation of seven sheikhdoms. Emirati troops, along with irregular and loyalist forces in Yemen, have been fighting against Shiite rebels known as Houthis for Hodeida since Wednesday. But fighting has been fierce and Emirati troops have been killed, with Houthi propaganda videos showing their armored vehicles disabled and set ablaze. A top Emirati official acknowledged how the campaign for Hodeida goes will determine the likelihood of an end to Yemen's war.
In this photo released by Emirates News Agency, WAM, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, right, is received by UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to hold talks about Qatar, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. In this photo released by Emirates News Agency, WAM, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, right, is received by UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to hold talks about Qatar, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. In this Tuesday, June 6, 2017 photo released by Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, right, receives Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Kuwait's emir traveled to Qatar to help mediate an end to a crisis that's seen Arab nations cut ties to the energy-rich nation home to a major U.S. military base, though Emirati officials warned there was "nothing to negotiate."
The United Arab Emirates says the "war is over" for its troops in Yemen, though it may continue to keep them there for "counterterrorism operations". Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi's crown prince, carried the announcement on his official Twitter account late on Wednesday. He was quoting Anwar Gargash, UAE's junior minister for foreign affairs, who had given a speech saying the "war is over for our troops". "Our standpoint today is clear: war is over for our troops; we're monitoring political arrangements, empowering Yemenis in liberated areas" An Arabic version of his comments was worded slightly differently than the English one, saying the war is "practically" over. The statement left open the likelihood that Emirati troops would remain in the Arabian Peninsula country, where they operate in the southern province of Hadramawt and the port city of Aden.
However, Gargash's comments first came to light via a tweet Wednesday from Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a powerful figure in the UAE's federation of seven sheikhdoms and the deputy supreme commander of the country's military. Sheikh Mohammed's tweet quoted Gargash as saying the war was "over for our troops" during a private lecture at a royal gathering.
Diplomats from Qatar and the four states blockading the Gulf nation have exchanged heated words at an Arab League meeting in Cairo. Tuesday's row, which erupted on live television, is the latest chapter in the three-month-old Gulf crisis in which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain are blockading Qatar. The four Arab states have accused Doha have supporting regional foe Iran and financing "terrorism", an allegation Qatar has rejected as "baseless". Kuwait has been trying to mediate in the dispute. During his opening speech, Qatar's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi referred to Iran as an "honourable country" and said ties had warmed with its neighbour since the blockade.