An Emirati soldier looking out of a military plane at the strait of Bab al-Mandab. Photo: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images.

The United Arab Emirates is reportedly withdrawing most of its forces from Yemen to defend its home front in the event of an Iran conflict — a move that could also improve its standing with U.S. lawmakers critical of the war in Yemen.

The big picture: The U.A.E.'s withdrawal of troops could lead to de-escalation in Yemen, but for Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman (MBS), a key Arab friend of the Trump administration, it is the latest indicator that he is rapidly running out of allies.

What's happening: The Saudi crown prince is increasingly seen as toxic by members of U.S. Congress.

  • The war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been fighting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels since 2015, has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and resulted in the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian disaster.
  • Additionally, a recent UN report found "credible evidence" that MBS ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
  • Accordingly, and in a rare bipartisan stand against the Trump administration, the U.S. Congress voted in June to block new arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
  • At the G20 summit in Osaka at the end of June, most world leaders gave MBS a wide berth, though President Trump notably praised him for doing "a spectacular job."

Between the lines: If tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalate into full-blown conflict, the U.A.E. could become one of the first targets of Iranian missiles. Pulling forces home means the U.A.E.’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayad, can better defend his Gulf emirate.

  • The move also placates U.S. Congressional critics of the war in Yemen.

What we're watching: Whether the U.A.E. will shift to fighting al Qaeda and ISIS in Yemen, which could also curry favor with American lawmakers, and how their alliance plays out in Libya, where the U.A.E. supports a rebel leader fighting the UN-backed government.

Lawrence Pintak is a professor at Washington State University and the author of "America & Islam: Soundbites, Suicide Bombs and the Road to Donald Trump."

Go deeper

BodyArmor takes aim at Gatorade's sports drink dominance

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

BodyArmor is making noise in the sports drink market, announcing seven new athlete partnerships last week, including Christian McCaffrey, Sabrina Ionescu and Ronald Acuña Jr.

Why it matters: It wants to market itself as a worthy challenger to the throne that Gatorade has occupied for nearly six decades.

S&P 500's historic rebound leaves investors divided on future

Data: Money.net; Chart: Axios Visuals

The S&P 500 nearly closed at an all-time high on Wednesday and remains poised to go from peak to trough to peak in less than half a year.

By the numbers: Since hitting its low on March 23, the S&P has risen about 50%, with more than 40 of its members doubling, according to Bloomberg. The $12 trillion dollars of share value that vanished in late March has almost completely returned.

Newsrooms abandoned as pandemic drags on

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facing enormous financial pressure and uncertainty around reopenings, media companies are giving up on their years-long building leases for more permanent work-from-home structures. Others are letting employees work remotely for the foreseeable future.

Why it matters: Real estate is often the most expensive asset that media companies own. And for companies that don't own their space, it's often the biggest expense.