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United Arab Emirates dismantling its military base in Eritrea.

Image Credit: PlanetLabs Inc.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) started dismantling part of its military base located in Assab, Eritrea. This was revealed by satellite photos analyzed by AP news.

Back in 2015, UAE expanded the military base’s airstrip and built a new port. It also had ‘one of the best surgical hospitals on the Middle East’ according to Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy.

The base originally built by Italy in the 1930 was given a 30- year lease by Eritrea to UAE. The military base was being used to transport heavy equipment and Sudanese troops to fight the Houthis in Yemen alongside the Saudi-led coalition. United Nations experts said that Leclerc battle tanks, G6 self-propelled howitzers and BMP-3 amphibious fighting vehicles were stationed in the base.

The stalemate in the Yemeni conflict has put UAE in a position where it cannot sustain the war anymore. Millions of dollars were spent to upgrade the military base. Satellite imaging revealed that even new structures were being put down.

There’s only so far that they can punch above their weight, which they do militarily and economically. Once they figured out Yemen wasn’t worth it for them, they decided, ‘We’re going to end it,’ and they ended it pretty suddenly.

Alex Almeida, a security analyst at Horizon Client Access.

The satellite pictures were provided by Planet Labs Inc and analyzed by AP.

The Emiratis are paring back their strategic ambitions and are pulling out of places where they had presences. Having that hard-power deployment exposed them to more risk than the Emiratis are now willing to tolerate.

Ryan Bohl, analyst at the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor.

Early on in January, satellite imaging revealed military vehicles and other heavy equipment being loaded onto a cargo ship. On February 5, the cargo ship and military vehicles were not seen.

Despite the rapid dismantling of the base, attack helicopters were still seen at the base. This might be to protect the strategically important base which sits off the Bab el-Mandeb strait which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

UAE is currently facing other serious problems, as tensions with Iran have escalated due to escalating tensions between US and Iran. Iran has launched a number of attacks on Emirati ships, prompting UAE to fully focus on its threat next door, rather than a failed war against Yemen.

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