UAE 'paid Yemen tribes' to push al-Qaeda out

UAE 'paid Yemen tribes' to push al-Qaeda out
A US official said that the UAE has paid militants to get them to abandon Yemeni territory.
2 min read
16 August, 2018
Emirati Armed Forces Brigadier addressing journalists about the war in Yemen [Getty]
The United Arab Emirates paid money to tribal leaders in Yemen to weed al-Qaeda out of its strongholds, according to a US official who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

The comments, which came on Wednesday, followed an AP report last week outlining how Emirati forces cut secret deals with militants to get them to abandon Yemeni territory.

The official told AP that money "has exchanged hands" and that it often went to "sheikhs in areas that have collaborated or allowed al-Qaeda to exist".

He didn't elaborate on how much was paid, but says the Emiratis' payments to tribal sheikhs allowed them to "ally themselves to the Emiratis".

He asked rhetorically whether the sheikhs would "turn back to al-Qaeda at some point in the future" and shrugged his shoulders.

News of the UAE paying al-Qaeda reflects the contradictory US interests at play in the war in Yemen.

On one hand, the US is working with the Saudi-led coalition to eliminate al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. On the other hand, the overarching goal of the Saudi-led coalition is to beat the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, which AQAP also opposes.

More than 10,000 people have died since the Saudi-led coalition began airstrikes in March 2015 to what it alleges as support for the internationally-recognised government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The war has triggered what the UN has labelled as the world's worst humanitarian disaster. Twenty three of Yemen's 28 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, with eight million on the brink of famine. 

While all parties to the conflict have been accused of major violations, global outrage in recent days has focused on the Saudi coalition after it carried out an airstrike on a bus that killed 40 children in the rebel-held north. 

The last attempt at UN-brokered talks broke down in 2016 amid demands for a rebel withdrawal from key cities and power-sharing with the Saudi-backed government.

Agencies contributed to this report 

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