(Photo Credit: WAM)
Italy lifted an embargo on arms sales to the UAE on 17 April, alleging in a statement that Abu Dhabi has been “halting its military role in the Yemen conflict.”
According to the Italian news agency ANSA, the decision to lift the ban was made during a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni after listening to a “detailed report” by Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.
This report claimed Abu Dhabi’s military presence in Yemen “has fallen since April 2022, while it has stepped up its diplomatic activities.”
Despite the claims from Rome, earlier this month, Abu Dhabi deployed a new contingent of troops to Yemen’s Socotra Archipelago, as the Gulf nation is in the process of transforming the island of Abd al-Kuri into a military base.
UAE troops have been present in Socotra since 2018, evicting locals and bribing tribes leaders to maintain control of the strategic islands.
In 2020, separatists from Yemen’s UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) forcibly seized control of Socotra, where they have been working alongside Israeli military experts to transform Socotra into an Israeli-Emirati military and intelligence hub.
The UAE also currently controls 12 ports off the coast of Yemen, including Aden, Makha, Mukalla, Al-Dabba, Bir Ali, Belhaf, Rudum, Zoubab, Al-Khawkhah, Al-Khouba, Qena, and Al-Nashima. Abu Dhabi is also building a new port in Al-Mahra that will cost an estimated $100 million.
Italy halted the sale of missiles to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in January 2021, citing its “commitment to restoring peace in Yemen and protecting human rights.”
Back in March, Rome and Abu Dhabi announced the promotion of their relations to the level of strategic partnership during a meeting between Meloni and Emirati President Mohamed bin Zayed (MbZ).