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'UAE hired Israeli firm to create Yemen war game'

The UAE is a major player in the Saudi-led coalition [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 April, 2018

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The Emiratis contracted Wikistrat, an Israeli company, in the lead up to the Saudi-led coalition war on rebels Yemen, according to reports.
The United Arab Emirates hired an Israeli consulting company to create “game scenarios” before entering the deadly war on Yemen in March 2015, US news reports said on Tuesday.

The Emiratis contracted Wikistrat, an Israeli company founded in 2010, in the lead up to the Saudi-led coalition intervention after Houthi rebels overran the capital and other major cities across the country, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Gulf state received game scenarios to assist their military in understanding the factions on the ground, including the Muslim Brotherhood.  

The UAE was later provided with “intelligent lite”, according to a person close to the company, allowing it to liaise with “local on-the-ground sources to anticipate threats”.

According to the WSJ report, the consulting company briefed top Emirati national security officials on two occasions, and experts involved in the making of the war game were unaware of who the client was.

The UAE is a key player in the Saudi-led coalition currently waging war on rebels in Yemen but Abu Dhabi has been at odds with Yemen’s President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi for months, with both sides maintaining separate security forces based in the southern city of Aden.

More than 10,000 Yemenis have been killed and 53,000 wounded since the start of the coalition intervention in Yemen.

Civilian casualties from coalition airstrikes have drawn criticism from rights groups, and in October the UN placed the alliance on a "blacklist" for killing and maiming children.

The United Nations is making a fresh push for peace talks in Yemen, where the coalition acted to support the internationally-recognised government after the Houthis seized the capital.

On Tuesday, the UN asked donors for nearly $3 billion to help an estimated 13 million people who urgently need aid in war-ravaged Yemen.

"Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, calling the situation "catastrophic." 

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