The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has asked the Italian government to withdraw its forces and aircraft from a key military base in the Gulf state.
The UAE authorities set July 2 as a deadline for Italian troops to pull out from Minhad airbase in the UAE, Italian official sources revealed.
The decision came, in what appeared to be, retaliation for an arms embargo imposed on the UAE by Rome in January.
“The pull-out has already started and while work is underway by Italy to secure a last-minute cancellation of the eviction, I doubt it will succeed,” Italiam MP Matteo Perego Di Cremnago said.
“When relationships break down in the Gulf it is very hard to resurrect them,” he added.
In January, Italy has halted the sale of thousands of missiles to Saudi Arabia and the UAE over their involvement in human rights violations in Yemen.
Rome defended its decision as a commitment to restoring peace in Yemen and protecting human rights.
The UAE was part of the Saudi-led coalition that carried out numerous war crimes and serious human rights violations in Yemen.
The war has killed more than 233,000 Yemenis in the last 6 years and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in a country that was already the Arab world’s most impoverished nation.
“Some 20.7 million Yemenis need some kind of humanitarian assistance, including 12.1 million people in acute need,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman to the UN’s secretary-general, adding “just to give you some context, I think there are 28 or 29 million people living in Yemen.”
Several rights groups have long appealed to world powers to impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia and the UAE over Yemen war.
US President Joe Biden’s new administration in January temporarily paused some pending arms sales to the UAE and Saudi Arabia for review.
However, he later approved in proceeding with over $235 billion in weapons sales to the UAE, including advanced F-35 aircraft, armed drones, and other equipment.
The decision sparked large condemnation from rights groups, amid calls to stop arms sales to the UAE.