The United Arab Emirates have made a lot of their involvement in the Saudi war against Yemen, and were one of the first to send ground troops into the nation to try to seize territory from the Shi’ite Houthis. The troops weren’t all Emiratis, however.
New reports suggest that the Emirati government has deployed hundreds of Colombian mercenaries into Yemen, the first overseas deployment for a “second army” they’ve been building out of Latin American mercenaries for several years.
The cash rich UAE has struggled to fill its regular army with experienced soldiers, and for years has been building this alternative force. Originally, Blackwater’s Founder Erik Prince was hired to organize this force in the desert, though the UAE insists he hasn’t been involved in the program for some time.
The initial plan was to create a force of some 3,000 Colombian troops, a move that angered Colombia’s own military, which pays far less than mercenary work, though indications are they never got more than 1,500 troops. The exact number sent to Yemen is unclear, but believed to be significant.