Declassified UK Investigation Reveals Details of British Royal Navy Training of UAE Navy
In a recent investigation published by Declassified UK, British journalist Phil Miller has revealed that the UAE Navy has received training from the British Royal Navy in the UK. The investigation shows that since the outbreak of the war in March 2015 the British Royal Navy have trained both the UAE and Bahrain Navy’s in the UK and the British Royal Navy spent ‘a week in Saudi Arabia training 15 sailors how to “board and search” vessels in “international waters or territorial seas”.’
The investigation reveals that in September 2015 a naval officer from the UAE attended a four-week training course at HMS Collingwood near Portsmouth on England’s south coast. The course included the teaching of ‘skills that could be used for blockading Yemen.’ This was one month after the Saudi-led coalition had bombed the port-city of Hodeidah which remains blockaded today with the UAE playing ‘a key role in the sea blockade [of Yemen].’
The investigation highlights the UAE’s relationship with Eritrea which is widely considered to be one of the most repressive states in the world. The Eritrean port city of Assab has hosted an Emirati naval base since the start of the Yemen war; Assab is reported by Human Rights Watch to be the location of one of the UAE’s secret detention centers where Yemeni dissidents forcibly disappeared from Aden in south Yemen have been taken to.
The report shows that, between September 2016 and March 2017, UAE personnel have participated in an ‘Exclusive Economic Zone Protection Officer course’ run by the British Royal Navy. An Exclusive Economic Zone is the area of sea adjacent to the territorial waters of a state whereby the surface is classified as international waters but the marine resources and right to exploit beneath the surface belong to the adjacent state. As a rising maritime power the foreign policy of the UAE has been guided by the control of ports for both economic and military reasons. The UAE recently issued a joint statement with Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and France to denounce Turkish activities in the disputed Exclusive Economic Zone off of the coast of Greek Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea.
The British Royal Navy training of the UAE Navy can therefore be implicitly linked to the foreign interventions of the UAE, which in Yemen and Libya have been characterised by systematic violations of human rights and a blatant disregard for international law.