UAE Rulers celebrate Armed Forces' efforts in Yemen

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Tribute was paid to members of the UAE Armed Forces as they were welcomed home from Yemen in an official ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Described as "faithful falcons", thousands of servicemen were honoured in an organised event attended by the country's leadership.

The UAE's Rulers gathered in a repurposed aircraft hanger in Al Dhafra Air Base for a presentation detailing the country's achievements during its five-year involvement in the Arab Coalition's efforts to restore the legitimate and internationally-recognised government in Yemen.

We gave sacrifices to protect Yemen as an Islamic and Arab country

Lt Gen Issa Al Mazrouei, UAE Armed Forces

Lt Gen Issa Al Mazrouei, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, revealed that 15,000 Emirati soldiers were dispatched to Yemen to joint the coalition. More than 130,000 air operations were carried out, amounting to half a million flight hours.

Fifty naval ships carrying 3,000 marine soldiers completed more than 1,000 naval missions to transport aid and military equipment between the UAE and Yemen.

"I say this to record it in history; [the UAE Armed Forces] were fighting three enemies on one land: the rebel Houthis, the Muslim Brotherhood and the terrorist forces of ISIS and Al Qaeda,” said Lt Gen Al Mazrouei.

He said that, aside from protecting Yemeni's from the Houthi insurgency, the UAE - as part of the coalition - helped train 200,000 Yemeni soldiers. The UAE also established humanitarian initiatives that directly benefited 17 million Yemenis.

"All of our work resulted in impressive results," he said, revealing that between 85 to 90 per cent of Yemen had been liberated of rebel forces.

"The UAE Armed Forces learnt many lessons, during this mission, at a heavy cost.

"We gave sacrifices to protect Yemen as an Islamic and Arab country," he said, referring to the 108 Emirati soldiers who died in service over the past five years.

Lt Col Dr Ayesha Al Dhaheri, a medical doctor with the UAE Armed Forces, paid tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives during Operation Restoring Hope. She also honoured the mothers of those servicemen, describing them as “makers of men”.

Once speeches were complete, the hanger doors opened to reveal thousands of servicemen and women in formation on the tarmac. Saluting the UAE leadership, the Armed Forces sang the country’s national anthem. Within their ranks were Emiratis Red Crescent workers who had been stationed in Yemen.

The UAE's leaders were invited to inspect the forces and walk among them as the military band played.

UAE Armed Forces officers congratulate officers and recruits operating in Yemen and Saudi Arabia on the occasion of Eid Al Adha in August last year. Wam

UAE minesweepers lay ignition cord across a cache of Houthi landmines, as two Sudanese colleagues look on. Gareth Browne / The National

Two UAE soldiers unwrap plastic explosive, and detonator cord, as they prepare a Houthi landmine cache for controlled explosion. Gareth Browne / The National

A UAE soldier stands guard as his team prepare to sweep a suspected Houthi minefield near Al Mokha, Yemen. Gareth Browne / The National

An Emirati soldier threads detonator cord through a captured Houthi landmine. Soldiers told The National they are carrying out the controlled explosion of hundreds of  landmines every few days. Gareth Browne / The National

Two Emirati soldiers, part of an Arab Coalition minesweeping team, pose for a photos as they await the controlled demolition of a Houth landmine cache near Al Mokha, Yemen. Gareth Browne / The National

UAE soldiers take part in a demining exercise near Al Mokha in eastern Yemen, this small team claim to have defused tens of thousands of Houthi landmines in recent months. Gareth Browne/The National

Rulers of the UAE attend a ceremony at Wahat Al Karama, Abu Dhabi, to mark the country's first Commemoration Day on November 30, 2016. Delores Johnson / The National

Rulers of the UAE attend a ceremony at Wahat Al Karama, Abu Dhabi, to mark the country's first Commemoration Day on November 30, 2016. Delores Johnson / The National

The return of the troops followed a long-term strategic redeployment, announced in July, which was part of the country's move to focus on the peace process.

The UAE joined the Arab Coalition in Yemen in 2015, after a Houthi insurgency took over the country's capital of Sanaa and overthrew the internationally-recognised government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The Coalition, consisting of nine countries, intervened on behalf of the government to fight back the rebel group — which invited Al Qaeda and armed insurgents into the region.

Over the five years, the coalition worked to liberate the insurgent-held territories and protected sea passages surrounding the country from naval attacks.

The coalition trained the Yemeni military in preparation for their withdrawal and to avoid leaving behind a security vacuum.

On a humanitarian level, the UAE provided $5.59 billion (Dh20.53bn) in aid to Yemen between April 2015 and June 2019, assisting 17.2 million Yemenis in every governorate of the country — including rebel-held heartlands such as Saada.

As the UAE withdraws its troops from Yemen, the government said it remains committed to the coalition and its efforts in the region.

The UAE will show continued support to the UN and other diplomatic efforts in Yemen, it said.

Updated: February 9, 2020 05:33 PM

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