The Saudi coalition, which already relies heavily on troops from Sudan to fight in Yemen, is looking to another African nation to shore up its ground presence in a bid to protect its failing adventure.
Sudan again came under pressure last week to withdraw troops from Yemen when pictures depicting yet another failure surfaced on social media. Yemen’s Army and Popular Committees — who control most of Yemen’s northern provinces — ambushed and killed dozens of invading Sudanese troops.
The United Arab Emirates reportedly reached out to Uganda this week seeking troops for an upcoming military operation along Yemen’s western coastline. Indigenous Yemeni forces currently control these areas.
This demonstrates the Saudi coalition’s failure to rally support from the Yemeni military for their war. Throughout the course of the conflict, Yemen’s Republican Guard has fought on the side of Ansarullah aka. “the Houthis.” After the death of late Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Saudi coalition expected most Republican Guard forces to join their cause.
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That didn’t work out. Many Republican Guard forces refused to join the Saudi coalition after fighting against them for the past three years.
Now, the UAE and Saudi Arabia lack the manpower to carry out their ground invasions. This situation has led Abu Dhabi to court Kampala into sending troops to Yemen.
The Ugandan government dismissed these reports and denied that Kampala would send its forces to the Arabian country. According to a member of the Saudi coalition in Yemen, Uganda will send 8,000 troops to Yemen on the U.A.E.’s behalf.
Emirati Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will travel to Uganda soon to sign several unknown agreements — one of which is said to include the troop deployment.
Why Is Sudan In Yemen?
Sudan has between 6,000 and 8,000 forces deployed in the wartorn Arabian country. Khartoum sent substantial troops to Yemen after Saudi Arabia and Qatar (a former member of the coalition) deposited a combined $2.2 billion in the African nation’s central bank in 2015. Sudan’s armed forces fight on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ behalf against indigenous Yemeni forces. For all intents and purposes, the Sudanese troops in Yemen are paid mercenaries.
Sudanese forces continue to suffer heavy losses at the hands of Yemen’s Army and Popular Committees. New photos surface nearly daily of ambushes, retaliatory operations, and defensive strikes which include dozens of dead Sudanese troops. It’s clear that this African nation (along with other paid mercenaries) carries out most of the dirty work in Yemen on Saudi Arabia’s behalf.
Aside from a hefty paycheck, Khartoum also received sanctions relief from the United States. Although not mentioned in any reports, it’s hard to believe that Sudan’s efforts in Yemen played no role in lifting the 20-year sanctions.
The recent Yemeni ambush on invading Sudanese troops — one of the worst throughout the course of the war — placed their role in the conflict back under the microscope. Sudanese president, Omar Al Bashir, defended Khartoum’s invasion of Yemen reiterating that troops shall remain indefinitely.
Al Bashir’s main opposition, however, has used the ambush as an opportunity to highlight the deployment as a disaster. Beyond that, Al Bashir lacks parliamentary approval for Sudan’s involvement in Yemen.
Reports indicate that President Al Bashir recently spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the phone. During the call, Al Bashir reiterated his support pledging 1,200 additional troops and heavy weaponry but expressed worry over the deteriorating situation in Yemen. Al Bashir reportedly asked bin Salman for increased protection to defend against Yemeni missile attacks.
Despite Sudan’s invasion and war crimes, Yemen has never threatened to launch missiles at Sudan. It’s worth mentioning that Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-supplied Patriot missile defense system does not work properly and experts wonder if it even works at all.
Yemenis view the Sudanese troops as invading forces guilty of war crimes.
Just weeks ago, a Sudanese soldier raped and beat a Yemeni woman. Occupying Emirati soldiers apprehended the woman and forced her to sign paperwork denying the rape ever happened.
This is just one example of what indigenous Yemenis face at the hands of invading Sudanese troops and all members of the Saudi coalition.
Top Photo | Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni meets with Saudi officials in the kingdom. December, 2015. (Photo: Twitter/@KagutaMuseveni)
Randi Nord is a journalist and co-founder of Geopolitics Alert. She covers U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with a special focus on Yemen.
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