SANAA

A Yemeni official on Friday denied that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had ended its military presence in the country.

This came in a tweet by Mohamed Gezan, the undersecretary of the Information Ministry of the Yemeni government. He called on Abu Dhabi to stop arming militias in the south.

Earlier, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted that his country had ended military presence in Yemen.

“The world is a small village, thanks to the media, and everyone knows that you are still in Yemen,” Gezan tweeted in response. “Withdraw your soldiers from Socotra, Balhaf, and Mayyun, and stop arming the militias.”

Gezan called on the UAE authorities to sincerely support the legitimacy of the Yemeni government.

Yemeni officials usually accuse the UAE of seeking to divide Yemen and to control its southern part in order to control its wealth and influence the vital ports, by arming forces parallel to the legitimate government.

Abu Dhabi has repeatedly denied these accusations stressing that its military presence is to support the legitimacy of the Yemeni government in the face of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel group.

The UAE is the prominent partner in a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia that launched an extensive campaign in Yemen in March 2015, in support of the pro-government forces against the Iran-backed Houthi group.

Yemen is witnessing a war, which the UN says has claimed the lives of more than 233,000 people, and 80% of the population of about 30 million people depend on aid to survive in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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