“Just to be clear, the UAE and the rest of the coalition are not leaving Yemen,” Gargash said in an opinion piece published in The Washington Post daily newspaper on Monday.
He added, “While we will operate differently, our military presence will remain. In accordance with international law, we will continue to advise and assist local Yemen forces,” referring the militants loyal to the ex-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Gargash went on to say that the Yemeni Houthi Ansarullah movement should view the UAE decision to reduce troops as a “confidence-building measure to create new momentum to end the conflict.”
“As the United Arab Emirates draws down and redeploys its forces in Yemen, we do so in the same way we began - with eyes wide open. There was no easy victory and there will be no easy peace. But now is the time to double down on the political process,” the Emirati minister asserted.
An unnamed senior Emirati official told reporters on July 8 that the Persian Gulf country was planning troop drawdown in Yemen in what was claimed to be a shift from a military strategy to a "peace" plan instead.
He added, “We do have troop levels that are down for reasons that are strategic in (the Red Sea city of) Hudaydah and reasons that are tactical” in other parts of the country.
“It is very much to do with moving from what I would call a military first strategy to a peace first strategy, and this is I think what we are doing,” the Emirati official said.
In late June, Western diplomatic sources said the UAE was mulling over scaling back its military efforts in the war in Yemen to focus on threats posed by the rising US-Iran tensions.
The UAE has triggered anger among loyalists to Hadi for its activities on Socotra Island in the Arabian Sea, presstv Reported.
Emirati cargo flights have unloaded tanks, armored transports and heavy equipment on the scenery island.
Hadi loyalists say the UAE, which has been part of the Saudi-led coalition pounding Yemen, had abandoned an initial cause of fighting Houthis, and is instead providing support to those seeking a separation of southern Yemeni territories from the north of the country.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the Saudi-led war has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Yemenis since January 2016.
The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.