DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Despite the United Arab Emirates's announcement Wednesday that it will cease its military operations in Yemen, the war is not over.
UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, made the announcement during a lecture held at the crown prince of Abu Dhabi's court: "Our standpoint is clear: War is over for our troops. We are monitoring political arrangements, empowering Yemenis in liberated areas."
When the statement was released no responses were issued by the Saudi government or the coalition leadership in Riyadh concerning the cessation of UAE military activities.
Gargash on Thursday released a public statement elaborating that the military is still part of the Saudi-led coalition "as an able and true partner to Riyadh."
"Our armed forces, as I have stated in my lecture, has performed its duties in the most courageous and professional manner and this will continue with Saudi Arabia until the coalition announces the end of the war," he said.
The coalition has been engaging in UN-sponsored peace talks with Houthi rebels now for almost two months.
Despite the negotiations, Gargash stressed that there is still no unified vision for the future.
"After 50 discouraging days of Yemeni peace talks in Kuwait, there is no unified vision for the future. There are alarming signs that the south wants to defect and that radicalism is on the rise," he said.
Other obstacles Yemen faces include the rise of al-Qaida with the support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the minister added. He blamed Iranian influence for fueling sectarian divisions in the region and "exporting chaos."
Smoke and fire billow during an April 5 controlled explosion by Yemeni experts to destroy explosives and mines laid by Houthi rebels in the southern city of Aden.
Photo Credit: Saleh al-Obeid/AFP via Getty Images
"The future of stability means taking a bigger stance when it comes to national security. Legitimacy needs to be restored and the Iranian influence has to be stopped. It's time that the line be drawn," he added.
According to Ahmed Al Astad, chairman of Abu Dhabi-based Strategic Center for Energy Studies and Decision Support, Istishary, the UAE will focus on the security and developmental operations in Yemen.
"The UAE forces have been operating, ensuring that the spread of al-Qaida and Islamic State terrorists are stopped and nipped," Al Astad said.
"The security posture is to enhance political, social and security stability in the country, making operations and activities focused on development and empowering Yemenis to regain control over their affairs, which in turn reflects on regional security and stability," he said.
He added that while the negotiations with the rebels are ongoing, the UAE move reflects interest in focusing on the Yemeni populous and engaging with them by providing much-needed development and humanitarian aid.
"While the negotiations are ongoing, the next period should focus on the developmental side of things — issues like unemployment are serious. There has been talks of division from the north earlier that also have to be addressed," he said.
Marib's Governor Sultan al-Arada, lower right, speaks on June 7 in the city of Marib, Yemen, after young Houthi fighters were released by the Saudi-backed government. The UN envoy for Yemen had been trying to push the two sides to agree to release half of all their prisoners before Ramadan, which began on June 6.
Photo Credit: Abdullah al-Qadry/AFP via Getty Images
Mahmood Sharief Mahmood, adviser and head of research at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said that despite the southern part of Yemen being mostly liberated, small pockets of risk and insurgency remain.
Mahmood added that the peace talks in Kuwait are focused on resolving hostilities in the north.
"The coalition want the Houthis to dissolve their revolutionary committee, then [establish] a military and security committee where members from both sides would be nominated," he said. A number of issues, however, are hindering such a goal, he said, such as disarmament, setting a timeline for the introduction of a new transitional government and the transitional government's makeup.
"The Houthis reject the surrender of heavy weaponry, which the agreement calls for," he said. "In the southern part of Yemen, especially in Al Mukalla, the UAE is trying to establishing [a] military and policing role for stabilizing security."
The agreement is considered the first stage in the post-war coalition plan.
The second stage, Mahmood said, is instituting the rule of law through a legal and judicial system. This will be followed by the creation of an adequate governance system and stabilization of the economy by instituting services, creating jobs and promoting economic activity.
"The development and infrastructure process will also begin at this stage. The Kuwait monetary fund had pledged to participate in the nation-building process," Mahmood said. "Infrastructure development is the most attractive investment at this point because this does not require engagement on the ground in a post-conflict situation".
In his statements, Gargash said that the UAE would help to rebuild Yemen but, ultimately, "building Yemen is the role of the Yemenis."