DUBAI (Dispatches) – The United Arab Emirates is evicting Italian planes and personnel from a major military installation in retaliation for an arms embargo imposed on the UAE by Rome in January this year, Defense News reported on Friday, citing an Italian MP.
Italy has reportedly been given until July 2 to leave the Arab country’s Al Minhad airbase, according to Matteo Perego Di Cremnago, an Italian member of parliament and member of the parliamentary military commission.
“The pull-out has already started and while work is underway by Italy to secure a last-minute cancellation of the eviction, I doubt it will succeed,” di Cremnago is quoted in the report as saying.
If verified, the eviction might make Italy’s current withdrawal from Afghanistan much more difficult.
“When relationships break down in the Persian Gulf it is very hard to resurrect them,” the politician noted philosophically.
The last Italian aircraft left the base on Thursday, leaving just residual data-x-items to gather, the outlet reported, citing former Italian air force head General Leonardo Tricarico. The eviction, according to Tricarico, is part of the UAE’s severe treatment of Italy, as the Persian Gulf nation “has also denied the use of its airspace to Italian military aircraft.”
The military base has also been utilized by Italy to support multinational operations in the Horn of Africa peninsula and the Indian Ocean.
The eviction could reportedly be related to Italy’s decision in January to impose a ban on the sale of munitions and missiles to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, citing concerns about the Persian Gulf states’ military intervention in Yemen.
The Biden administration said in January that it would evaluate a large $23.37 billion arms sale to the UAE, which had been announced by the Trump administration and included 50 F-35 fighter jets, drones, and ammunition. In April, Washington announced that it would proceed with the agreement.
Saudi Arabia, backed by the U.S. and regional allies including the UAE, launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah movement.
The Saudi-led military aggression has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead, and displaced millions of people. The Saudi war has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases across the country.