Eritrea is a tiny country with geostrategic importance in the Horn of Africa. The UAE built a military base in the country in 2015 to ferry heavy weaponry as well as to mobilize Sudanese mercenaries to Yemen. This military base, along with another one in Libya’s east, was a concrete attempt by the UAE to make its presence felt in the region beyond offering economic opportunities to impoverished countries such as Eritrea. Following its decision to withdraw troops from Yemen, this base was dismantled in the early months of 2021. Yet, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the UAE has lost interest in Eritrea.

“We flew from the UAE to a base where we received a hit list: 23 cards with 23 names and 23 faces.”

Isaac Gilmore

UAE's dismantled military base in Eritrae.

Dahlan, who has been maintaining mercenary operations for the UAE, used Eritrea as a transition point for foreign mercenaries to be employed in different countries, including Yemen. In the assassination operation, co-organized by Dahlan and Spear Operations Group, the planning was carried out in Eritrea. While this tiny country is in need of oil-rich UAE’s financial assistance, Dahlan has exploited this deficiency to carry out his agenda elsewhere.

UAE has also been trying to mediate Eritrea’s conflicts and disputes with its neighbors, including Ethiopia and Somalia. Dahlan appears, once again, as a mediator to keep the region calm.




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