UAE-Saudi Tensions Escalate in South Yemen

Sheba Intelligence | 2024-02-28 11:35 AM UTC


Military tension between the UAE and Saudi Arabia escalated in the eastern and southern regions of Yemen in an unprecedented manner, leading to frictions that almost turned into a military confrontation between opposing forces loyal to the Gulf states.


After the forces loyal to the UAE took control of the 1st Marine Infantry Brigade in Socotra, which is supported by Saudi Arabia and adjacent to the Saudi Duty Forces (808), the situation became tense between the UAE-backed Giants forces and a military checkpoint from the Shabwah police that the Saudi-led coalition forces had established. The checkpoint is manned by troops loyal to the Yemeni government.


A security source in Shabwah told Sheba Intelligence that the Commander of the First Divisionin the Giants Forces, Brigadier General Raed Al-Jabhi, attacked a military checkpoint in Qarn Al-Sawda, affiliated with the police of the Habban District in Shabwa Governorate. Five crews and three armored vehicles accompanied the Commander.


After an exchange of fire, the Giants Forces received more reinforcement, including thirty military vehicles and twenty armored vehicles, and they kidnapped the police chief of Habban district and 13 soldiers and officers at the military checkpoint with all their military equipment.


However, the Giants Forces told a different story. They said in a statement that members of the security forces in the Habban District of Shabwa targeted the convoy of the Commander of the First Division of the Giants Forces, Brigadier General Al-Jabhi, resulting in injuries. The Giants Forces admitted to arresting members of the military checkpoint.


Meanwhile, media reports said that the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council, which seeks secession, rejected government directives to refer the officials from the Tax Authority in Aden for investigation. The Council returned those officials to work.


Ahmed bin Mubarak-led government has taken new procedures to regulate the operation of the Tax Authority, which has angered some local leaders. The Southern Transitional Council is accused of controlling customs and tax revenues in Aden to finance its leaders and forces.


The southern governorates are witnessing deepening security troubles. Tribal clashes in Shabwah province between the Balharith and Al Dhaifullah tribes led to the death of one person and four others wounded on Saturday.


Local sources accuse the Giants Forces and Shabwah Defense Forces, which are loyal to the UAE, of not intervening to stop the tribal confrontations despite the presence of their camps in the same region.


A source said, "It seems that the Emirati-Saudi dispute has left an impact on Shabwah, which is among the provinces that Abu Dhabi seeks to have more influence in."


Forces loyal to the UAE took control of Shabwah province in August 2022 and expelled government forces, except for some service security units.



Earlier this month, the President of the Southern TransitionalCouncil, Aidaroos Al-Zubaidi, demanded that the cities of the Hadhramout Valley and Desert and Al-Mahra Governorate be handed over to the Hadhrami Elite Forces, a move aimed at boosting the separatist takeover of South Yemen.


Lately, the separatists have intensified efforts to dislodge the Nation's Shield Forces and other military units loyal to the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), which is the UN-recognized authority in Yemen.


The PLC established the Nation's Shield Forces last year with support from Saudi Arabia. The present escalation of the southern separatists points to the continued UAE-Saudi rifts in Hadramout.