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UAE moves to disarm the tribes of Shabwah in “preventive” crackdown

UAE occupation forces have moved to forcibly disarm several tribes of the Shabwah governorate, leading to fears that they seek to end the long-lasting autonomy of Yemen’s tribes.

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SANA’A – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) occupation forces have forcibly seized loads of heavy weaponry from several tribal groups in the Belhaf district of Shabwah governorate, one of them being the Al-Khaf tribe, in an apparent preventive crackdown on the tribal forces that make up most of the province.

According to Emirati sources, the presence of the weaponry posed a “threat” to nearby oil wells, many of whom have been taken over by UAE or Saudi interests since the 2015 invasion of Yemen. However, on Monday a group of tribal elders of Shabwah denounced the Emirati move as shameful and humiliating towards the tribes.

The elders’ statement denounced the confiscation of their tribes’ weapons as an attempt by the UAE to exercise full control over the autonomous tribes, and forcing them to depend on the Emirati occupation force for survival. The disarming of the tribes will likely pave the way for full Emirati occupation of Shabwah, according to the elders.

The UAE decision likely comes in an attempt to prevent a total armed tribal insurrection against the Saudi-led occupation of southern Yemen. Shabwah province has seen several mass protests over the past months, demanding the overthrow of the Saudi-backed Hadi regime and the withdrawal of all foreign invaders.

The thinly populated south and east of Yemen is home to several tribes, who are known to be fiercely protective of their autonomy and wary of far-reaching government control.

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