Sunday, 09 May, 2021


UAE deploys troops to Yemen's Socotra island

UAE deploys troops to Yemen's Socotra island UAE deploys troops to Yemen's Socotra island
Bennie Garza | 07 May, 2018, 14:31

Three Emirati cargo planes carrying military equipment and 100 troops landed on Socotra on Wednesday evening, as the prime minister of the internationally recognised government, Ahmed bin Dagher, visited the island.

In a statement cited by the official Saba news agency, the government said the difference between it and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) "revolves around national sovereignty and absence of a strong level of mutual coordination".

Anwar Gargash, UAE's junior foreign minister, said on Twitter that his country had historic and family ties to Socotra. Socotra island is considered to be safer from Houthis who have been virtually ruling most of the Yemen's territory.

The apparent surprise deployment was carried out without the knowledge of the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, which controls the island, a Yemeni government source told AFP.

Saudi Arabia has pledged to send investigators to Socotra, according to the official.

The UAE, which plays a crucial part in the coalition that has been engaged in a controversial war against the rebels, is facing widespread criticism among locals as well as high-ranking politicians in Yemen after reports confirmed it deployed hundreds of soldiers to the Yemeni island this week.

Socotra, a UNESCO heritage site home to some 60,000 people, has a 3,000-metre-long runway, ideal for fighter jets and large military aircraft.

Tension has mounted between Yemen and the UAE since last week, when the latter dispatched a military force to the island. The images of UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, also known as MBZ, now adorn official buildings.

Relations between Hadi and the UAE has soured due to the latter's expanding influence in southern Yemen.

Residents of the island are angry over the UAE's "occupation", arguing that there were no Houthi rebels on the island to justify such a deployment.

So, why is the UAE deploying troops in Socotra and elsewhere?

The newspaper, citing unnamed U.S. officials and European diplomats, said on Thursday that a team of about a dozen Green Berets were sent to the Saudi-Yemen border in December past year.

Meanwhile, New York Times reports that USA has deployed a team of special forces soldiers to Saudi Arabia's border with Yemen to help locate and destroy caches of ballistic missiles used by Houthis to attack Riyadh.

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