UAE dismantles Eritrea base as it pulls back after Yemen war

Associated Press 08:02 PM | 18 Feb, 2021
UAE dismantles Eritrea base as it pulls back after Yemen war

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates is dismantling parts of a military base it runs in the East African nation of Eritrea after it pulled back from the grinding war in nearby Yemen, satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press show.

The UAE built a port and expanded an airstrip in Assab beginning in September 2015, using the facility as a base to ferry heavy weaponry and Sudanese troops into Yemen as it fought alongside a Saudi-led coalition against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels there.

But the country once praised as “Little Sparta” by former U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appears to have found the limits of its military expansion in Yemen's stalemate conflict, experts say. After it withdrew troops from the conflict, the satellite photos show it began shipping off equipment and tearing down even newly built structures.

"The Emiratis are paring back their strategic ambitions and are pulling out of places where they had presences,” said Ryan Bohl, an analyst at the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor. “Having that hard-power deployment exposed them to more risk than the Emiratis are now willing to tolerate.”

Emirati officials did not respond to questions from the AP. Eritrea, which gave a 30-year lease to the Emiratis for the base, similarly did not respond to questions sent to its embassy in Washington.

The UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, poured millions of dollars into improving the facility at Assab, only some 70 kilometers (40 miles) from Yemen. It dredged a port and improved the dusty airstrip's roughly 3,500-meter (11,500-foot) runway to allow for heavy support aircraft.

The Emiratis also built barracks, aircraft canopies, and fencing across the 9-square-kilometer (3.5-square-mile) facility initially built in the 1930s by colonial power Italy.

Over time, the UAE stationed Leclerc battle tanks, G6 self-propelled howitzers, and BMP-3 amphibious fighting vehicles at the airport, according to United Nations experts. Those types of heavy weapons have been seen on Yemeni battlefields. Attack helicopters, drones, and other aircraft have been seen on its runways.

Barracks on the base housed Emirati and Yemeni troops, as well as Sudanese forces filmed disembarking in Yemen's port city of Aden. Records show the ship carrying them, the SWIFT-1, traveled back and forth to Assab. The vessel later came under attack by Houthi forces in 2016 and the Emirati government asserted it carried humanitarian aid, a claim for which U.N. experts later described themselves as being “unconvinced of its veracity.”

The base also aided wounded soldiers by housing “one of the best field surgical hospitals anywhere in the Middle East," said Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy who has studied the Assab base.

As Yemen's war dragged on, the Emiratis also used the base for holding prisoners as the Saudi-led coalition faced increasing international pressure over detainee abuse and airstrikes killing civilians. The UAE announced in the summer of 2019 it had begun withdrawing its troops from the war, which still rages today.

“There’s only so far that they can punch above their weight, which they do militarily and economically,” said Alex Almeida, a security analyst at Horizon Client Access who has studied Assab. “Once they figured out Yemen wasn’t worth it for them, they decided, ‘We’re going to end it,’ and they ended it pretty suddenly.”

Satellite pictures from Planet Labs Inc., analyzed by the AP, show that decision appears to extend to Assab as well.

In June 2019, around the time the Emiratis made their withdrawal announcement, workers apparently razed structures believed to be barracks alongside the port, the satellite images show. Workers gathered neat rows of materiel just north of the port, apparently waiting to be shipped off.

In early January of this year, another photo showed what appeared to be vehicles and other equipment being loaded onto a waiting cargo ship. By Feb. 5, the ship and that equipment were gone.

The deconstruction included newly built canopies along a new tarmac near the facilities' runway as well. In the Feb. 5 images, another set of canopies that analysts earlier linked to the drones being flown out of the base had been dismantled as well. The UAE has used Chinese-made armed drones in the Yemen war to kill leaders among the Houthi rebels.

Destruction of the drone hangars come after rebels in Ethiopia's Tigray region in November alleged that Emirati drones from Assab had been used against their positions. The UAE hasn't commented on the allegation for which the rebels offered no evidence.

The U.N.-backed government in Libya also has alleged the UAE has flown weapons through Assab on its way there. U.N. experts have accused the UAE among other nations of funneling weapons into Libya amid its yearslong civil war.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian-registered Antonov An-124 cargo plane flew several flights in late January back and forth to the Emirati city of Al Ain from Assab, according to flight data from

That aircraft, once linked to the Emirati military, now flies for a Ukrainian-Emirati company called Maximus Air. The firm did not return a request for comment left at its Abu Dhabi office.

Despite the dismantling work, Emirati attack helicopters still have been seen at the base. It remains a strategically important point as well, sitting just off the crucial Bab el-Mandeb strait connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

But the UAE may face more-pressing concerns. Since 2019, tensions between the U.S. and Iran have seen a series of escalating incidents, including attacks on ships off the Emirates. Those threats closer to home may take precedence over an expanded military footprint abroad.

“I think what ‘Little Sparta’ is doing is to keep its powder dry for whatever it needs to do next,” Knights said.


Today's currency exchange rates in Pakistan - Dollar, Euro, Pound, Riyal rates on March 28, 2023

KARACHI - Following are the foreign currency exchange rates for US Dollar, Saudi Riyal, UK Pound Sterling, U.A.E. Dirham, European Euro, and other foreign currencies in Pakistan open market on March 28, 2023 (Tuesday).

Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 09:00 AM)

Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar ‎USD 284.1 287.15
Euro EUR 304.5 307.5
UK Pound Sterling GBP 345.5 349
U.A.E Dirham AED 77.3 78.1
Saudi Riyal SAR 76 76.7
Australian Dollar AUD 187.5 189.9
Bahrain Dinar BHD 753.18 761.18
Canadian Dollar CAD 205.5 207.7
China Yuan CNY 41.44 41.84
Danish Krone DKK 41.30 41.73
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 35.92 36.27
Indian Rupee INR 3.41 3.52
Japanese Yen JPY 2.06 2.11
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 924.09 933.09
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 62.84 63.45
New Zealand Dollar NZD 178 180
Norwegians Krone NOK 26.33 26.63
Omani Riyal OMR 735.91 743
Qatari Riyal ‎QAR 77.43 78.13
Singapore Dollar SGD 209.5 211.5
Swedish Korona SEK 26.5 26.8
Swiss Franc CHF 308.97 311.47
Thai Bhat THB 8.3 8.45

Today's gold rates in Pakistan – 28 March 2023

KARACHI - The price of a single tola of 24-karat gold in Pakistan is Rs 204,300 on Tuesday. The price of 10 grams of 24k gold was recorded at Rs175,160.   

Likewise, 10 grams of 22k gold were being traded for Rs163,624 while a single tola of 22-karat gold was being sold at Rs 190,880.

Note: The gold rate in Pakistan is fluctuating according to the international market so the price is never been fixed. The below rates are provided by local gold markets and Sarafa Markets of different cities.

City Gold Silver
Lahore PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Karachi PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Islamabad PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Peshawar PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Quetta PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Sialkot PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Attock PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Gujranwala PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Jehlum PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Multan PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Bahawalpur PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Gujrat PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Nawabshah PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Chakwal PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Hyderabad PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Nowshehra PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Sargodha PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Faisalabad PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465
Mirpur PKR 204,300 PKR 2,465


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