Shabwa security forces stop Emirati convoy carrying snipers, thermal missiles
Government security forces in Shabwa governorate intercepted on Thursday evening an Emirati convoy transporting weapons, including sniper rifles and thermal rockets. The weapons were destined for a camp belonging to the UAE-supported Elite Forces, raising concerns over the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement signed earlier this month between the Yemeni government and UAE-aligned southern separatists.
A source in the local security forces told Almasdar Online that the interception happened at the Bin Lashdaf checkpoint, located at the northeast entrance of Ataq, the main city of the southern governorate of Shabwa. The source added that the Emirati military convoy had moved from the port of Balhaf, which serves as the headquarters of UAE forces in the governorate, to Al-Alam Camp, located between Ataq and Balhaf.
The government security forces were informed about the convoy and the specific vehicles authorized to pass, as a routine procedure for travel between the camps. However, according to the source, the security officials manning the checkpoint found weapons in one of the vehicles that were not mentioned in the communication, including ammunition, thermal rockets, and sniper rifles.
The Emirati officers attempted to pass through with the weapons, according to the source, but the Yemeni security forces refused and prevented the convoy from passing until they received an order from the governorate security command, because the UAE convey had not followed the proper communication protocol.
The source noted that the security services in Shabwa had received information about a subversive plot being arranged to create public unrest and target some public interests and army and security points. With the implication that the UAE is continuing to empower local armed groups outside of the authority of the Yemen government, the checkpoint incident on Thursday has increased concerns over the possibility for renewed conflict in the governorate.
Despite the UAE’s broad drawdown of forces in Yemen, the incident demonstrated that local forces continue to receive significant support outside of formal channels. Moreover, the direct involvement of Emirati military personnel on the ground in the latest incident sends a signal that the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, signed earlier this month, will not be easy.