In a sudden, somewhat unprecedented turn of events, Kuwait, an integral part of the Saudi-led military coalition waging war against Yemen, has reportedly begun a pullback of its forces from the contentious border areas between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
The withdrawal was brought to public attention on Thursday through video clips circulated on social media. These clips, shared by individuals affiliated with the Saudi-backed and Aden-based Presidential Leadership Council (PLC), showcased the retreat of Kuwaiti forces from the disputed regions and their subsequent return to their homeland.
Kuwait's exit from the militarised zones marks a significant shift in Middle Eastern geopolitics, more so as it comes over eight years after Kuwait initially stationed its troops along Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen. This was in response to the brutal conflict that Riyadh led against its southern neighbor starting in 2015.
The Underlying Reasons Remain a Mystery
Currently, the impetus behind the withdrawal of Kuwaiti forces evades clarity. Analysts are unable to ascertain if the move stems from intra-alliance disputes within the Riyadh-led consortium or other geopolitically strategic considerations.
As concern arises in the wake of this mysterious pullout, certain observers have associated the military transit with growing potential threats against Kuwaiti soldiers. Similar to the recent attacks on Bahraini forces stationed at the Saudi border with Yemen, Kuwaiti troops had also likely become targets for Yemeni retaliatory operations.
The Dangers Faced by Other Coalition Forces
This potential threat to troops is no idle speculation. Recent events have underscored the perilous working conditions for coalition soldiers. A drone attack on soldiers patrolling the Saudi-Yemen border resulted in three Bahraini servicemen losing their lives, a fact confirmed by the Bahrain Defense Force just this week.
The Devastating Military Conflict – A Brief Recap
Saudi Arabia declared a war of aggression against Yemen in March 2015, enlisting the assistance of some of its regional allies, such as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, along with considerable shipments of advanced weaponry from the US and Western Europe.
With a political and logistical lifeline extended by Western governments, Riyadh's goal was to restore power in Yemen to the former Saudi-installed government. However, this move was met with resistance following the resignation of Yemen's government president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, in late 2014 amid a political conflict with the Ansarullah resistance movement.
The brunt of this conflict has unfortunately been borne by the general populace. The war has so far led to the death of tens of thousands of Yemenis, and it has also transformed all of Yemen into the site of the world's most severe humanitarian crisis.
Despite the shadow of uncertainty hanging over the Kuwaiti troop withdrawal, it nevertheless signals a substantial shift that is bound to have wide-reaching repercussions in the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East. As the situation continues to evolve, the world watches with bated breath.