THU 2 - 7 - 2020
Date: Nov 28, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
MBS visits UAE in push to end Yemen war
Agence France Presse
ABU DHABI: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman visited the United Arab Emirates Wednesday, as efforts to end the nearly 5-year-old war in Yemen gain momentum. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are close allies and key members of a military coalition backing the government in Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

But an Emirati drawdown in July followed by fighting in southern Yemen between UAE-backed separatists and the government - still backed by Riyadh - had exposed rifts between the two Gulf powerhouses.

Earlier this month, a power-sharing agreement brokered by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi was reached between the southern secessionists and the Yemeni government.

This has raised hopes for peace talks to end the war in Yemen’s main theater, between the coalition-backed central government and the Houthis.

The Saudi crown prince’s visit reflects “agreement between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh ... in addressing regional challenges,” the official UAE state news agency WAM reported.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed Al-Nahyan greeted Prince Mohammad at the capital’s airport. The streets of Abu Dhabi were lined with Emirati and Saudi flags, while road signs that usually display traffic warnings greeted the Saudi crown prince.

The sound of fighter jets resonated across Abu Dhabi’s skies as the two leaders headed together to the opulent presidential palace, where Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler was greeted with the classic Saudi song, “You are the King.”

It came a day after the Arab coalition said it would release 200 Houthi rebels and permit some flights from the rebel-held capital Sanaa.

The initiatives coincided with a lull in Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia launched from Yemeni soil and come after a senior official in Riyadh this month said it had an “open channel” with the Iran-backed rebels.

Patients needing medical care will be allowed to be flown out of Sanaa airport, which has been closed to commercial flights since 2016, coalition spokesperson Turki al-Maliki said in a statement Tuesday.

The coalition intervened in Yemen’s war in March 2015, shortly after the Houthis seized Sanaa.

Since then, tens of thousands of people - most of them civilians - have been killed and millions displaced in what the U.N. has termed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The visit by Prince Mohammad, also known by his initials, MBS, comes at a time when Saudi Arabia is seeking to attract investment in its oil giant Aramco’s IPO, which could be the world’s largest flotation.

According to Bloomberg, Abu Dhabi intends to invest as much as $1.5 billion in the listing.

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