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Saudi Arabia takes over key Yemen ports after UAE troop withdrawal

Al Meezan, TheNewArab:

Saudi Arabia’s military has reportedly moved to secure two Red Sea ports and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait after key ally the United Arab Emirates reduced troops across war-torn Yemen.

The UAE is a key partner in a Saudi-led military coalition which intervened in Yemen in 2015 to back the internationally recognized government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

Since then, tens of thousands of people – mostly civilians – have been killed in the conflict described by the UN as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, which has left the impoverished country on the brink of famine.

Yemeni military and government officials told Reuters that Saudi officers had taken command of military bases at the al-Mokha and al-Khokha ports.

Emirati forces had used the ports to monitor the coastline and support their military campaign in Hodeida.

Saudi Arabia has also sent troops to the southern port city of Aden and Perim Island, located in the strategic Bab al-Mandeb shipping lane.

Amnesty International said last year that human rights violations in a string of UAE-run prisons in Yemen could amount to war crimes.

Over the years, the oil-rich Gulf neighbors have stood side-by-side on regional issues. The emergence of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, heir to the throne, as a main regional player has only strengthened ties.

The UAE announcement to withdraw troops came amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran that spiked in June when Iran shot down a US drone over strategic Gulf waters following a series of tanker attacks that Washington blamed on Iran, which denied involvement.

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