Newspaper: Riyadh asked Washington to help fill the vacuum created by UAE withdrawal from Yemen

Newspaper: Riyadh asked Washington to help fill the vacuum created by UAE withdrawal from Yemen

The New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia is counting on U.S. military support to fill the vacuum created by the UAE's decision to withdraw most of its troops from Yemen.

In a report published Thursday, translated by Russia Today, the newspaper quoted diplomats familiar with the matter as saying that Riyadh had asked Washington to increase its support to the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi group in Yemen.

Diplomats said the kingdom hopes to get more intelligence from the United States and Washington to deploy special forces and military advisers in Yemen, as well as its logistical support and arms exports to the Saudis.

The newspaper pointed out that the Saudis complain about receiving conflicting messages about Washington's position on the Yemeni war, where Congress adopted earlier this year a draft resolution to end U.S. support for Arab coalition operations, while Pentagon officials concluded that the war has reached a dead end for months, and they urged the Saudis to begin negotiations to end the conflict.

President Donald Trump has used all his powers to counter congressional initiatives, while the Hawks in his administration, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, are taking tough positions on the Yemeni war.

Pompeo, a diplomat who attended Washington’s international conference on Middle East issues in February, said Pompeo stressed the need to "eliminate the Houthis."

The newspaper pointed out that the UAE withdrawal dealt a severe blow to the Arab coalition, especially since Saudi participation in the war was mostly limited to air operations while the UAE forces played a prominent role in almost all successes on the ground.

Moreover, the newspaper confirmed that the UAE was the one that pushed various Yemeni armed factions to fight together against the Houthis, so its withdrawal threatens to disperse the coalition ground forces.

Differences emerged among former allies over who would take the lead after the UAE withdrawal, with allies of Tarek Saleh, the son of the late Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh' son, last week promoting his appointment as commander of the joint forces on Yemen's west coast, and soon deployed forces. The Giants' Brigades (also backed by the UAE) have expressed their disapproval, while the southern factions see themselves as a new advanced force after the UAE withdrawal.

The newspaper pointed out that the Saudis cannot withdraw from Yemen as easily, even if they wish, because of the kingdom's long land border with this country.

The newspaper stressed that some Western and International diplomats see the UAE withdrawal as a step that will push Riyadh to start negotiating a peace agreement with the Houthis and will end air operations that the coalition has been heavily criticized for causing civilian casualties.

But it is unclear whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will take the move, especially since statements by Trump administration officials encourage him to continue fighting, while not under significant pressure within the kingdom, diplomats and analysts say.


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