After one year of war, the fortunes of Yemen are far brighter than they were 12 months ago when Al Houthi rebels with their Iranian supporters threatened to capture Aden and take the whole country. There was a genuine possibility that Iran would use Al Houthis to destroy the government Yemen had and create a base from which they could destabilise Saudi Arabia and seek to foment chaos in the entire Gulf region.
This is why the UAE had to act with its Gulf allies in order to support the security and stability of Saudi Arabia and the integrity of Yemen and its legitimate government. Yemen’s Arab allies rallied to resist the Iranian plan and to draw a line to make clear to Iran that it had to stop its continuing policy of interference.
The war has been a terrible experience and the UAE has made some exceptional sacrifices for the cause of regional security and the rule of law. No one will ever forget how the UAE forces lost 46 martyrs in one day on September 5 in a horrific attack. Those bravehearts were part of many others who laid down their lives for the cause that their nation had entrusted them with. The UAE forces have made a major contribution to the success that the coalition has enjoyed.
The problem in Yemen started in September 2014 when Al Houthi fighters captured Sana’a with forces linked to the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. They forced President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government to relinquish its authority as Al Houthis seized total control of Sana’a in January 2015, after which Hadi fled to Aden.
It was at this crucial juncture that the Gulf allies intervened to save Yemen and on March 26, 2015, launched a military intervention — codenamed Operation Decisive Storm, led by Saudi Arabia and backed by nine Arab states, including the UAE. After the initial fighting, on April 21, 2015, the coalition ended its purely military operation and sought a start to the political process of rebuilding Yemen as part of Operation Restoring Hope. Over the months, the allies have worked their way north and are now close to Sana’a and there is hope building up, following the United Nations’ announcement on Wednesday that a ceasefire had been agreed upon from April 10, to be followed by peace talks.
Such a development will be both a fitting and necessary end to the huge commitment that the Gulf has made to the security of Yemen and the entire region.