Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Senior Fellow for Middle East Security Bilal Y. Saab writes for Newsweek on the pitfalls of the United Arab Emirates’ intervention in Yemen:
Fallen soldiers, wasted resources, and tarnished reputation. These are some of the costs of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) risky military intervention in Yemen. Having worked so hard and invested so much over the past decade to create a positive image for itself and effectively become a role model in the region, is the UAE’s war in a poor and conflict-ridden country such as Yemen a harmful distraction or a necessary pursuit? The UAE’s leaders believe it’s the latter. Here is why.
The UAE’s decision to intervene in Yemen is a head-scratcher. Unlike Saudi Arabia, the UAE does not share a border with Yemen. Therefore, any security threat posed by pro-Iran Houthi rebels in Yemen to the UAE is not direct. While some Houthi surface-to-surface missiles can reach UAE territory, the military danger is neither immediate nor lethal (those missiles are not accurate or reliable, and the UAE fields some of the most powerful missile defenses in the world). The UAE also does not share Saudi Arabia’s other incentives for getting involved in Yemen: asserting leadership of the Arab world and control of the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which it is a member. Such goals are unrealistic for the UAE.