UAE signs $1.3bn weapon deal

The United Arab Emirates' yearslong war in Yemen alongside Saudi Arabia bled into the start of a biennial Abu Dhabi arms fair Sunday, which saw the Emirates sign $1.3 billion in weapons deals.

One manufacturer displayed a model of a machine gun on sale that is now in the hands of Emirati-backed militiamen in Yemen, while the armored personnel carriers and tanks used in the war in the Arab world's poorest country also could be seen at the show.

Even the military show that began the fair included troops raiding a militant hideout equipped with both mobile and land-based ballistic missiles, just like those in the possession of Yemen's Houthi rebels.

While Emirati officials avoided discussing Yemen, allied American officials linked arms smuggling there to what they described as the wider malign activities of Iran across the greater Middle East.

"My assumption is there are still things going into Yemen that I need to stop. There is nothing good happening by arms being illegally shipped into Yemen," said Vice Adm. James Malloy, the head of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet command that oversees the region.

"It is destabilizing. It delays peace there. It exacerbates the disastrous humanitarian crisis that we're facing in Yemen and delays humanitarian efforts coming in."

Discussing the Houthis, Malloy added: "We see the world trying to end this thing and one group doing nothing to end it — probably the opposite."

The UAE entered Yemen's war in March 2015 alongside Saudi Arabia to back Yemen's internationally recognized government, which the Houthis had pushed out of the capital, Sanaa.

The Emirates largely has handled ground operations in the conflict while the Saudis have bombed from the air.

The war has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine and killed more than 60,000 people since 2016, according to the U.S.-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, or ACLED, which tracks the conflict.

Atrocities have been common in the war.

Saudi airstrikes have hit markets and hospitals, killing civilians.

Associated Press investigations have shown how the UAE negotiated secret deals with al-Qaida in Yemen fighters and that coalition forces tortured and sexually abused detainees.

Meanwhile, the Houthis have indiscriminately laid land mines, employed child soldiers and tortured political opponents.

The U.S. had backed the Saudi-led coalition with midair refueling and targeting information.

American lawmakers, angered by the Oct. 2 assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, have been pushing to withdraw U.S. support.

The Houthis also have fired over 150 ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia, some even reaching as far as its capital, Riyadh. The West, United Nations experts and the Saudi-led coalition say Iran has helped supply the Shiite rebels with the missiles, something Iran denies.

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