CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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April 2023

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain announced plans to restore diplomatic ties with Qatar, concluding process to end almost six-year intra-Gulf rift.

UAE and Bahrain announced plans to re-establish formal relations with Qatar. Bahrain and Qatar 13 April revealed intention to restore diplomatic ties after pair held second round of dialogue at Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretariat in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh. Shortly after, UAE and Qatari officials 18 April told reporters both countries were working to reopen embassies and restore ties; Bahrain and UAE, along with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, severed ties with Qatar and imposed blockade in June 2017, marking beginning of tense intra-Gulf confrontation lasting until 2021. While announcements mark full resumption of ties between Qatar and all former blockading states, signalling entire GCC’s intent to turn page after 2017-2021 rift, tensions and friction points continue to plague intra-GCC relations, including economic competition between Saudi Arabia and UAE as well as disputes between UAE and Qatar over latter’s alleged ties to Islamists in region. Meanwhile, Iran 4 April announced appointment of ambassador to UAE – filling position that had been vacant since 2016.

January 2022

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Huthis in Yemen launched largest attack on country to date, killing three people. After United Arab Emirates (UAE)-aligned forces in Yemen seized territory in north-western Shebwa governorate (see Yemen), Huthis carried out attacks on UAE. Huthis 2 Jan seized Emirati vessel in Red Sea and 17 Jan claimed attack targeting industrial facility in Musaffah and extension of airport in capital Abu Dhabi, killing three and injuring six; Huthis 24 Jan targeted Dhafra air base hosting U.S. military in UAE. Attacks come after increasing visibility of Emirati role in Yemen as reports have indicated in recent weeks that UAE has stepped up air operations and support to anti-Huthi groups, despite previous 2019 UAE announcement of withdrawal from conflict. Authorities 31 Jan said they had intercepted missile fired by Huthis from Yemen. Attack came as Israeli President Herzog 30-31 Jan travelled to UAE in first ever visit by Israeli president and discussed security and bilateral relations with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

August 2021

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

UAE took steps to improve relations with main regional rivals Tur-key and Qatar. In effort to de-escalate regional tensions and focus on economic growth, UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al Nahyan 18 Aug met with Turkish President Erdoğan in Turkish capital Ankara; Erdoğan same day announced prospect of “serious” UAE investments in Turkey and said he was open to meeting with UAE’s de facto ruler Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Erdoğan’s office 31 Aug announced Erdoğan and Al Nahyan had spoken by phone about bilateral relations and regional issues; UAE presidential diplomatic adviser Anwar Gargash same day commented call “very positive and friendly”. In first visit of senior Emirati official to Qatar since resumption of diplomatic ties in Jan, Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al Nahyan 26 Aug headed delegation visiting Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Qatari capital Doha; discussions included bilateral relations, enhancing economic and trade cooperation and investment projects.

January 2021

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Country signed reconciliation deal to end three-and-a-half-year intra-Gulf dispute. United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Bahrain agreed to reopen their land, air and sea borders with Qatar after all four states and Egypt 5 Jan signed al-Ula Declaration at Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh; agreement ends three-and-a-half-year blockade of Doha by three neighbouring states and Egypt who cut ties with Qatar in July 2017. U.S. 26 Jan announced temporary pause on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE; U.S. Sec State Anthony Blinken same day said administration wanted to ensure proposed sales “advances our strategic objectives”. Italy 29 Jan halted “export of missiles and bombs” to Saudi Arabia and UAE, saying “respect for human rights is an unbreakable commitment.” 

September 2020

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Country signed historic normalisation deal with Israel. United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain 15 Sept signed bilateral normalisation agreements with Israel at White House ceremony in Washington DC, U.S.; deal paves way for greater cooperation between two Gulf states and Israel in areas of defence, tourism, trade, and cybersecurity. 

August 2020

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates (UAE) reached historic deal with Israel to normalise relations. Israel and UAE 13 Aug signed U.S.-brokered deal with UAE agreeing to full normalisation of relations with Israel in return for “suspension” of West Bank annexation. Deal paves way for two states to exchange ambassadors and initiate open cooperation in areas of security, tourism, trade and healthcare; agreement makes UAE fourth Arab country (after Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania) to formally recognise Israel. Iranian President Rouhani 15 Aug described normalisation of Israel-UAE relations as “a big mistake” and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps same day warned UAE of “dangerous future”; UAE next day summoned Iranian envoy to Abu Dhabi. Emirati coast guard 17 Aug opened fire on Iranian fishermen, killing two; Iran same day seized Emirati vessel for “illegally entering Iranian waters” and 18 Aug summoned UAE’s envoy to Tehran over fishermen’s killing. In rare display of unity, UAE along with five other members of Gulf Cooperation Council 10 Aug urged UN Security Council to extend arms embargo on Iran following visit by U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook to region.

July 2020

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Amid govt shakeup, tensions persisted between United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, on one hand, and Qatar, on the other. As economic challenges increased due to COVID-19 pandemic and oil price collapse, PM Mohammed Al-Maktoum 5 July announced govt overhaul aimed at facilitating “quicker and more efficient decision-making”; changes include merger of some of country’s largest ministries, including Ministry of Energy with Ministry of Infrastructure. Meanwhile, UAE early July obstructed U.S.-backed talks between Qatar and blockading Gulf states UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt on resolution of Gulf crisis; UAE reportedly urged Saudi Arabia to follow suit. International Court of Justice 14 July rejected Gulf states’ appeal to overturn International Civil Aviation Organisation’s decision to hear Qatar’s case regarding closure of airspace to Qatari civil aviation. UAE, U.S. and five other Gulf states 15 July imposed sanctions on six targets accused of providing financial support to Islamic State (ISIS) leadership in Iraq and Syria. UAE 20 July launched spacecraft from Japan bound for Mars; first interplanetary mission in Arab world.

June 2020

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

New signs emerged of apparent ongoing warming relations between United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel. UAE 9 June sent second shipment of COVID-19 aid to Palestinian territories via Israeli airport after Palestinian Authority (PA) had rejected aid in May on grounds of “normalisation” with Israel; PA 10 June again condemned UAE’s move. Yousef al-Otaiba, UAE ambassador to U.S., 12 June published op-ed in Israeli news outlet, warning Israeli annexation of West Bank would jeopardise Israel’s efforts to improve relations with Arab countries; first time Arab diplomat publicly acknowledged warming ties between Israel and UAE. Israeli PM Netanyahu 25 June announced new cooperative effort between UAE and Israeli companies to jointly develop research and technology to fight COVID-19, stating agreement was “the result of extensive and intensive contacts in recent months”; UAE Foreign Ministry same day confirmed initiative.

May 2020

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

After repatriation of Pakistani citizens from United Arab Emirates (UAE) began late April, Pakistani govt early May voiced concern that many citizens returned home testing positive for COVID-19, with some flights reporting 50% infection rate; UAE denied claims, warning it could review labour ties with states refusing to take back their nationals. Amid ongoing tensions between UAE and Turkey, UAE 11 May issued joint statement with Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and France condemning “Turkey’s military interference in Libya”; in response, Turkey’s FM Cavusoglu next day accused UAE of sowing chaos in Middle East, notably in Libya and Yemen. UAE 19 May sent COVID-19 aid bound for Palestinian territories via Israeli airport, marking first direct flight between UAE and Israel; PA 21 May rejected move as “cover for normalisation” of relations with Israel.

April 2020

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, United Arab Emirates (UAE) helped dispatch aid to several countries, including Iran. As part of efforts to combat COVID-19, UAE throughout month helped channel aid to several countries, including Pakistan, Indonesia and Botswana; humanitarian gestures followed late-March telephone call between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Syrian President al-Assad, which had marked first contact between Arab leader and al-Assad since start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, and during which UAE had offered to dispatch aid to support Syria’s efforts to combat COVID-19 pandemic. After UAE helped channel aid to Iran in March, Iran FM Seyed Abbas Mousavi 6 April responded that COVID-19 response had brought “more reason and logic” to bilateral relationship. Govt 12 April reached agreement with Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil-producing countries to reduce global oil production by 9.7mn barrels a day after oil price war between Saudi-Arabia and Russia broke out early March. To slow spread of COVID-19, govt 17 April announced extension of 24-hour curfew in Dubai city, repatriation of thousands of foreign workers back to home countries and warned that it will review labour ties with countries refusing to take back citizens; Govt 22 April said UAE and Pakistan deepened cooperation over repatriation of Pakistani citizens.

March 2020

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

In response to COVID-19 outbreak in Iran, govt early March assisted with delivering seven tonnes of World Health Organization medical aid and 16 March said it would provide a further 32 tonnes.

February 2020

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Thousands of Emirati soldiers 9 Feb returned from Yemen as part of planned military withdrawal. British law firm Stoke White, invoking principle of universal jurisdiction, 12 Feb requested UK, U.S. and Turkey to open investigations into senior Emirati officials suspected of perpetrating war crimes in Yemen. Govt 3 Feb announced discovery of 80 trillion cubic feet of shallow gas reserves by state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) at Jebel Ali gas field, largest gas discovery in last fifteen years worldwide; ADNOC signed agreement with Dubai Supply Authority to jointly explore gas reserves.

January 2020

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

After U.S.’s 3 Jan killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani sparked rise in regional tensions, FM 3 Jan called for “wisdom, balance and political solutions above confrontation and escalation”.

November 2019

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Following Saudi-mediated negotiations, UAE-backed Yemeni southern separatist group Southern Transitional Council 5 Nov signed agreement with Yemeni govt to end hostilities in south. Govt sent players to Gulf Cup football tournament in Qatar to run 24 Nov-8 Dec, which it had previously planned to boycott.

October 2019

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates (UAE) took steps to improve relations with Iran, continued to withdraw military from Yemen and received visit by Russian President Putin. Iranian MP 20 Oct said UAE had unfrozen $700mn of Iranian funds. UAE forces continued to withdraw from south Yemen, 14 Oct handing over al-Anad international airport near Aden to Saudi forces and 30 Oct completing withdrawal from Aden. In Saudi-mediated negotiations in Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi-backed Yemeni govt and UAE-backed southern separatist group Southern Transitional Council (STC) came close to signing agreement that would see southerners gain equal representation with northerners in govt and place in future peace talks with Huthis. Russian President Putin 15 Oct visited Abu Dhabi for first time since 2007; Russian Direct Investment Fund said officials concluded deals worth over $1.3bn in energy, advanced technology and health sectors.

September 2019

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Rift between UAE- and Saudi Arabia-backed forces in Yemen persisted, as Saudi-backed Yemeni govt refused to accept proposed power-sharing deal with Yemen’s southern separatists. In Saudi city of Jeddah, Yemeni govt and UAE-aligned southern separatist group Southern Transitional Council (STC) 4 Sept onward held indirect talks aimed at power-sharing agreement to end fighting, no outcome end-month. Huthis 18 Sept claimed they had identified dozens of potential targets in UAE for drone strikes. Govt condemned 14 Sept attacks on Saudi oil facilities. Emirates News Agency 19 Sept announced UAE would participate in U.S.-led initiative to secure Gulf waters called International Maritime Security Construct. U.S. 20 Sept said it would deploy additional troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia and UAE in response to countries’ requests for assistance with air and missile defence systems.

August 2019

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Yemen’s southern separatists, trained and equipped by United Arab Emirates (UAE), seized southern city of Aden from Saudi-backed Hadi govt forces, pitting UAE interests against those of Saudi Arabia, which opposes Yemen’s partition. In Yemen, UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) 7-10 Aug seized control of provisional capital Aden and expelled pro-govt forces allied to Riyadh, including armed groups closely associated with Islamist Islah party (see Yemen). High-level delegations from UAE and Saudi Arabia, including UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed and Saudi King Salman, met in Saudi city of Mecca 12 Aug and jointly called for parties to “prioritise dialogue and reason in interest of Yemen”. Following Saudi call for emergency summit on matter in Jeddah, UAE 17 Aug confirmed alignment with Riyadh but did not join Saudi Arabia’s calls for STC to leave Aden. Abu Dhabi 20 Aug rejected Yemeni govt’s accusations that it was supporting secessionists and held Yemeni President Hadi partially responsible for clashes. Saudi and UAE FMs 26 Aug issued joint statement reaffirming coalition’s support to Hadi govt while condemning “defamation” of UAE; Abu Dhabi 28 Aug denied Hadi govt’s allegations of torture in secret prisons. Minister of State al-Sultan al-Jaber 17 Aug attended signing of Sudan’s Transitional Government agreement in Sudanese capital Khartoum.

July 2019

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Govt made public its military drawdown in Yemen and encouraged talks aimed at political transition in Sudan. Govt 22 July publicly acknowledged its military drawdown in Yemen, which it started in April. FM Gargash 22 July reiterated govt’s commitment to political process, described drawdown as “confidence-building measure”, and said UAE and Saudi-led coalition “not leaving Yemen”. By end July, military had reportedly withdrawn 50-75% of its troops, but aimed to retain lead in liaison with and advice to Yemeni forces on Red Sea coast. Following late June visit to capital Abu Dhabi by U.S. Envoy to Sudan Donald Booth, govt and Saudi Arabia early July encouraged leaders of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council and protest movement to engage in talks mediated by African Union and Ethiopia; Emirati and Saudi leaders expressed optimism about 17 July agreement between parties (see Sudan). Rocket carrying UAE surveillance satellite 10 July launched in French Guiana via European Space Agency (ESA) but crashed minutes after take-off, prompting ESA to announce investigation. U.S. Congress 17 July passed resolutions aimed at blocking U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE without congressional approval. UAE and Iranian officials held 6th joint meeting on maritime affairs 30 July in Iranian capital Tehran, first such meeting since 2013.

June 2019

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

As tensions continued to rise between U.S. and Iran and their respective allies, United Arab Emirates (UAE) took steps to avoid inflaming situation. While U.S. and Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for 13 June attacks on tankers in Gulf of Oman, UAE refrained from attributing blame, pending ongoing investigation. Quad comprising Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK and U.S. 22 June expressed concerns over “escalating tensions in the region and the dangers posed by Iranian destabilising activity to peace and security both in Yemen and the broader region” (see Iran). In Yemen, UAE has drawn down some of its forces along Red Sea coast, and removed some military equipment from Hodeida. After Sudanese security forces 3 June attacked protesters in Sudanese capital Khartoum, U.S. official next day called Saudi and UAE govts which support Sudan’s military leadership; both released statements regretting violence and urging Sudan’s military to reopen talks with protesters.

May 2019

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Unidentified attackers 12 May damaged four oil tankers (two Saudi, one Emirati, one Norwegian) near Fujairah port. Govt opened joint investigation with U.S., France and Norway and refrained from attributing blame; U.S. defence officials 24 May said Iran was responsible for attacks. Govt 22 May said it would take part in U.S.-led Palestine investment meeting to be held 25-26 June in Manama, Bahrain, as part of upcoming U.S.-developed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

April 2019

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Five days after Sudanese President Bashir ousted 11 April, high-level joint delegation from United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia 16 April met Sudanese Transitional Military Council (TMC) in Sudan, TMC praised Sudan’s “distinguished ties” with both countries; UAE and Saudi Arabia 21 April said they would give Sudan aid worth $3bn ($500mn in central bank and $2.5bn worth of food, medicine and fuel). In response to launch of military offensive led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar to take Libyan capital Tripoli, UAE 4 April co-signed statement with France, Italy, UK and U.S. calling for de-escalation around Tripoli.

March 2019

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

During Russian FM Lavrov’s visit as part of 4-7 March Gulf tour, United Arab Emirates (UAE) govt and Lavrov discussed political transition in Syria. Govt end Feb announced it would deploy 5G mobile phone network in partnership with Chinese tech giant Huawei, despite U.S. lobbying against move.

February 2019

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

FM Gargash 3 Feb called for implementation of Stockholm Agreement in Yemen and to make 2019 “the year of peace in Yemen”. In joint statement on Yemen 13 Feb, “Quad” comprising UAE, Saudi Arabia, U.S. and UK denounced Iranian support for Huthis and blamed latter for lack of progress in implementation of Stockholm Agreement. Govt and UAE 26 Feb both pledged additional $500mn to UN 2019 humanitarian plan for Yemen. Govt hosted joint military exercise with Oman 3-14 Feb.

January 2019

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

In letter to UN Security Council 17 Jan, govt restated commitment to implementation of Stockholm Agreement in Yemen, while condemning Huthi ceasefire violations. Govt has repeatedly warned privately that Saudi-led coalition reserves right to return to hostilities if no progress made on Huthi redeployment from Hodeida. Country’s global port operator DP World 3 Jan said first convoy of trucks had travelled along newly reopened 2,500km corridor from Jebel Ali port to Syria. Govt 20 Jan hosted inaugural UAE-Syria private sector forum.

November 2018

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Court 21 Nov sentenced to life in prison British academic Matthew Hedges, arrested in May for spying. After UK FM Hunt 22 Nov warned of “serious diplomatic consequences” if govt did not release Hedges, govt 25 Nov pardoned him “in consideration of the historical relationship between the UAE and the UK”. Govt opposed UK’s draft UN Security Council resolution on Yemen late Nov. Govt 20 Nov announced joint pledge with Saudi Arabia of $500mn in aid to Yemen.

October 2018

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Following killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul 2 Oct, UAE 14 Oct issued statement affirming solidarity with Saudi Arabia against “attempts to undermine its regional stature and fundamental role in establishing regional peace and security”. Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait 6 Oct signed agreement providing $10bn to Bahrain to support fiscal program aimed at eliminating budget deficit by 2022.

August 2018

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

After UAE Minister for International Cooperation Reem al-Hashimy met Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa 10 Aug, Ethiopian govt said that UAE was exploring investment opportunities there, including building oil pipeline from Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to Eritrean port city of Assab.

July 2018

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Huthi forces in Yemen 26 July claimed to have launched drone attack on Abu Dhabi airport, which UAE denied. Leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan 24 July in Abu Dhabi and thanked UAE for role in fostering peace between two countries after twenty-year frozen conflict; Prince Mohammed awarded both leaders highest civilian honour for ending war (see also Ethiopia and Eritrea).

April 2018

Middle East & North Africa

United Arab Emirates

Relations between govt and federal govt of Somalia deteriorated following latter’s objections in recent months to increased UAE cooperation with Somaliland and Puntland regions over which federal govt claims sovereignty. Somali federal govt 8 April seized almost $10mn in cash from Emirati plane at Mogadishu airport; UAE denounced action, saying money was to pay wages of Somali soldiers it had been training. Somalia 11 April said it would take over military training program from UAE. Emirati govt 15 April said it would stop training program and 16 April closed UAE-run hospital in Mogadishu (see Somalia).

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