A senior British military officer today praised the role played by the UAE in the liberation of the Yemeni port of Mukalla from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP.
Lieutenant General Sir Simon Mayall, a retired British Army officer and a Middle East Adviser at the Ministry of Defence in the UK, said in a letter to the Daily Telegraph that, "one of the world's deadliest international terrorist organisations has been dealt a body blow."
During its occupation of Mukalla, which ended last month, he noted, AQAP had "exploited the chaos of the civil war in Yemen to make dangerous gains, including taking the port city of Mukalla, from which it has been collecting millions of dollars a week through extortion and the smuggling of weapons and oil."
The recapture of the port by Yemeni Government forces and coalition troops led by the UAE, he added, was followed up by immediate humanitarian assistance from the UAE.
"UAE military planners have put local people at the forefront of their thinking, with humanitarian aid flights landing within hours of the capture, and a further $20 million committed to helping rebuild the city port," he said.
Praising the UAE for its role, Sir Simon added that, "the military campaign against AQAP is improving global security by depriving terrorists of funding."
"I hope the wider international community will take note, and contribute more actively to a political resolution in Yemen that will benefit the people of that country and the whole region," he concluded.
During a military career that spanned over 30 years, Sir Simon served in Oman for several years in the 1980s and also fought with Britain's 1st Armoured Division in the 1990-1991 Gulf War to liberate Kuwait. He returned to the region in 2006-2007 as Deputy Commanding General of the multi-national forces in Iraq before becoming Deputy Chief of the British Defence Staff and then Senior Middle East Adviser to the British Ministry of Defence.