Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, stated that the UAE, as part of the Arab Coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, is committed to combatting terrorism and confronting and destroying Al Qaeda in Yemen.
He also pointed out that their operations in Yemen include facing the Houthis militia and confronting the Al Qaeda while adding that Yemen requires a political solution, and the UAE has always highlighted this necessity. He also stressed that the Houthi militias are the main obstacle to achieving this goal.
“We will not allow a strategic transformation to happen in the region in Iran’s interest, through the Houthi militias controlling Yemen,” Gargash said while pointing out that the militias are not independent of Iran’s control.
He made this statement during the press conference that was held today in Dubai, with the attendance of Brigadier Musallam Al Rashidi, UAE Armed Forces Spokesman.
Dr. Gargash highlighted the UAE’s commitment to combatting terrorism and extremism around the world, which is a major part of its foreign policy, as reflected by its efforts in Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen.
“The Al Qaeda thrived before the start of Operation Restoring Hope, as it benefitted from the deteriorating political conditions in Yemen, and expanded its control over the country,” he stated.
“The Arab Coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, has managed, over the past three years, to conduct parallel operations in Yemen, which include facing the Houthi militias and confronting the Al Qaeda. We succeeded in weakening the Al Qaeda in Yemen,” he said.
“We are looking forward to the discussion in Geneva, which is planned in September, and will hopefully be the start of political negotiations that will lead to a political solution to the Yemeni crisis,” he added.
Gargash affirmed that the military operation is necessary for finding a political solution. “We still believe that the main obstacle to any political solution is the Houthis, as they are the ones who underestimated previous initiatives and refused to leave civilian areas and withdraw from Hodeidah.
These deliberations will test them, and if they do not prove to be the opposite of what is expected of them, they will continue to be the main obstacle to reaching a political solution in Yemen. We have dealt with the Hodeidah issue with much patience and rationality, and we must continue to pressure the Houthis to withdrawal from the port and city,” he stressed.
“We are concerned about the humanitarian conditions in Yemen, and the Arab Coalition is doing all it can to deliver humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people and is cooperating with United Nations, UN, agencies to implement humanitarian programmes, such as combatting cholera,” he noted.
Gargash explained that the international community must condemn the Houthi’s practices in Yemen, such as planting landmines in residential neighbourhoods and recruiting and coercing children to fight in the war.
While answering questions about the conditions in Yemen and the UAE’s role in training Yemenis to combat terrorism and the Al Qaeda, Dr. Gargash said that the UAE has provided the necessary training to Yemenis, who are now at the frontlines of the operations against the Al Qaeda.
He added that the Houthi militias are not ready to negotiate and are only preparing for war, and while the UN were conducting their operations in Hodeidah, the Houthis were digging trenches in residential neighbourhoods and strengthening their military capabilities.
He further added that the Arab Coalition could have started a major operation and taken control of Hodeidah. However, it gives the UN envoy the opportunity to perform his role, especially as Hodeidah is home to around 600,000 people, he noted.
The press conference began with a presentation by Al Rashidi about the UAE’s role in combatting terrorism in Yemen and confronting the Al Qaeda.
He said that Mukalla was the Yemeni caliphate and capital of the Al Qaeda, which plundered Yemeni oil revenue, robbed the central bank and released many prisoners.
Al Rashidi explained that the current situation is much better compared to the period between 2012 and 2014, as the Al Qaeda are now only in control of a small part of Yemen.
He affirmed that one of the UAE’s top priorities is to defeat the Al Qaeda, which was able to use the political instability in Yemen during the “Arab Spring.” They also used the Houthi coup to strengthen their presence in the country, he added.
Al Rashidi pointed out that the Arab Coalition has defeated the Al Qaeda in many areas in Yemen, such as Hadramaut while noting that ensuring Yemen’s stability is linked to confronting and eliminating them.
He further affirmed that the UAE Armed Forces has always valued the role of Yemenis in confronting the Al Qaeda, and has trained 60,000 Yemeni fighters since April 2015.
He further stressed that the UAE’s efforts will continue until the Al Qaeda is defeated in Yemen, and the organisation is in its weakest state since 2012 and has lost over half of its territories while around 1,500 of its fighters have been arrested and 200 killed.
The Al Qaeda is a danger to Yemen, as well as the entire Arab region and the entire world, and the UAE will continue to perform its role until it is eliminated, he said in conclusion.