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Saudi, UAE involvement in eastern Yemen unsettles Oman

Reports that Saudi Arabia is planning to militarize its presence in Yemen’s easternmost governorate have raised security concerns in neighboring Oman.
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In recent days, much attention on southern Yemen has focused on Aden, where Yemen’s internationally recognized government has been clashing with the pro-independence Southern Resistance forces. That Saudi Arabia supports the former and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the latter, such recent escalation of violence in the temporary capital for Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government has raised major questions about the Riyadh-led Arab coalition and Yemen’s ability to overcome its members’ political differences.

Developments in Yemen’s easternmost al-Mahra governorate, which also belonged to South Yemen during its official existence (1967-1990), are simultaneously heightening concerns about different Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states’ opposing interests undermining the prospects for conflict resolution in Yemen. Last year, the UAE formed the "Mahri Elite Forces," which took after the Emirati-backed elite forces in other Yemeni provinces including Abyan, Aden, Hadhramaut, Lahj and Shabwa. Abu Dhabi tasked the force with securing al-Mahra’s land and sea borders to take on arms smugglers. These forces were to take control of al-Mahra’s entry points, as well as the airport in al-Ghayda.

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