The UAE, together with its ally Saudi Arabia, played a highly visible role in helping make peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia. As its footprint across the Horn of Africa grows, the UAE should avoid having intra-Gulf competition colour its engagement.
Originally published in The New York Times
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.
The quarrel between Gulf monarchies has spilled into Somalia, with the fragile state now caught between the rival interests of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The competition has already aggravated intra-Somali disputes. All sides should take a step back before these tensions mount further.