UAE Prolongs Compulsory Military Service to 16 Months amid Yemen War

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has extended compulsory military service for Emirati nationals from 12 to 16 months amid the Abu Dhabi’s involvement in the Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen, which has claimed the lives of thousands of innocent civilians and reduced the impoverished Arab country’s critical infrastructure to rubble.

“The general command of the armed forces ... announced the extension of the legal period for national service ... to 16 instead of 12 months,” state news agency WAM reported late on Saturday.

 The UAE introduced mandatory military service in 2014 for Emirati men. It also allowed the optional participation of women, who can serve only nine months upon approval of their legal guardians.

Men who hold a high school diploma or its equivalent will serve 16 months instead of 12, while those who do not have a high school qualification continue to serve for two years.

The Associated Press reported last month that Emirati officers have tortured and sexually abused hundreds of detainees at their detention centers in Yemen.

The report highlighted that the inmates, who are held without charges, have been sodomized, raped, probed and stripped down in at least five prisons.

In one case, detainees suffered sexual abuse at Beir Ahmed prison in Aden on March 10, when fifteen Emirati officers ordered prisoners to undress and lie down for cavity checks, claiming they were looking for contraband cell phones.

Those prisoners who resisted were beaten until they bled, and threatened with barking dogs.

“They tortured me without even accusing me of anything. Sometimes I wish they would give me a charge so I can confess and end this pain,” said a prisoner, who was detained last year and has been in three different jails.

“The worst thing about it is that I wish for death every day and I can’t find it,” he said.

The UAE is Saudi Arabia’s key partner in its deadly war against Yemen.

The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured since March 2015.

The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

A high-ranking UN aid official recently warned against the “catastrophic” living conditions in Yemen, stating that there was a growing risk of famine and cholera there.

“People's lives have continued unraveling. Conflict has escalated since November, driving an estimated 100,000 people from their homes,” John Ging, UN director of aid operations, told the UN Security Council on February 27.

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