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Riyadh Recruiting Al-Qaeda to Fill UAE Gap in Yemen

Fars News Agency – Yemeni Sources said Saudi Arabia has created a formation of 25,000 militants, including al-Qaeda terrorists, in coastal areas and Southern parts of Yemen after the UAE declared withdrawal of its forces from the war-torn Arab state.

Sources were quoted by the Arabic-language al-Akhbar newspaper as saying on Monday that Saudi Arabia is attempting to revive the militia loyal to the anti-Yemen coalition, adding that once the UAE announced decreasing forces in Yemen, Riyadh started a new phase of recruitment in the Southern provinces to fill the vacuum created after the Emirati forces’ pullout. According to the report, Saleh al-Mashjari, a Saudi-backed Salafi cleric, has been able to mobilize over 15,000 militants.

Meantime, the Abyan revolutionary youth movement, one of the local movements opposing the Saudi-led coalition, warned of Riyadh’s attempts to recruit the young people to send them to the Northern and Western coastal front. It added that al-Mashjari has invited tens of al-Qaeda members from al-Baydah province in Central Yemen to his base and given them key posts in al-Maniyaseh.

The UAE announced it was reducing the number of its troops fighting as part of a Saudi-led military coalition which presses ahead with a years-long atrocious military aggression against the impoverished Yemen.

A senior Emirati official during a press briefing in Dubai earlier this month claimed that the withdrawal took place because Abu Dhabi was shifting from a military strategy to a peace plan in Yemen.

“We do have troop levels that are down for reasons that are strategic in (the Red Sea city of) Hudaydah and reasons that are tactical” in other parts of the country, he said. “It is very much to do with moving from what I would call a military-first strategy to a peace-first strategy, and this is I think what we are doing,” the official added. 

Meanwhile, an official from Yemen’s former Saudi-backed government said that UAE troops had “totally vacated” the military base in Khokha, located South of Hudaydah.

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