Cracks in Saudi-UAE coalition risk new war in Yemen
The conflicting interests of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia could end the countries’ coalition against Iran-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen, and add a new chapter to the Yemeni civil war that has resulted in a devastating humanitarian crisis in the country.
In 2015, the UAE and Saudi Arabia joint forces to fight an insurgent campaign by Houthi rebels that both countries considered to be an attempt by Iran to increase its influence in the region. Over the next four years the coalition managed to drive the Houthis back to the north of the country, but the latter still control a significant region and the fight against them stalled months ago.
And now, the two coalition partners seem to be turning on each other. Last week,the UAE attacked forces of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Yemen’s internationally recognized president who the coalition is supposed to support. Hadi’s supporters accuse the UAE of planning a coup against their leader in an attempt to increase the country’s influence in Yemen. But Saudi Arabia still backs Hadi and has a strong interest in containing the UAE, which could lead to an escalation of fighting involving Emirati and Saudi forces.