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Yemen seeks to resort to Security Council to oust UAE forces from Socotra

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The UN Security Council holds a vote on a Russian-proposed draft resolution on Syria during an emergency meeting, April 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by AFP)

Yemeni sources have revealed that officials with the government of a former president seek to resort to the United Nations Security Council to put an end to the UAE's military presence on Socotra Island.

A Yemeni official source said an increasing number of officials with Yemen's ousted government are “thinking of addressing the United Nations to get the UAE out of the Arab alliance”.

The crisis has escalated between Abu Dhabi and the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi after Emirati forces took control over sovereign facilities in Socotra. 

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper that the UAE’s actions are “a flagrant violation of Yemeni sovereignty”.

Aides to Hadi are pressing him to address the UN over the issue, but the Saudi pressure is hindering the move, the source added.

Other advisers to the former president, however, have said the Saudi mediation failed to calm down the situation and defuse the crisis.

On Sunday, the local leader of the Sons of the Provinces of al-Mahra and Socotra Sultan Abdalla bin Issa al-Afrar urged the withdrawal of the Emirati forces from the island.

Addressing the residents of al-Mahra after arriving from Oman earlier in the day, the sultan noted that the presence of Emirati forces is unacceptable as there are no Houthi fighters on the island, calling on the countries of Saudi-led coalition to put an end to their military presence.

The undated photo shows a view from the beach on the Yemeni island of Socotra.

Residents and authorities in Socotra said on May 2 that UAE forces had landed on the island along with tanks, armored transport vehicles and heavy equipment.

The deployment came amid widening divisions between forces loyal to the UAE and those supporting the former Yemeni president. Both camps are based in southern Yemen and mostly in Aden as the capital Sana’a still remains under the control of the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Hadi's loyalists have accused the UAE of abandoning an initial cause of fighting the Houthis, saying Emirati forces are instead providing support to those seeking a separation of Yemen's southern territories from the north of the country.

Reports have suggested that the UAE has been actively cementing its presence in Socotra since the very beginning of the Saudi-led campaign against Yemen in March 2015.

Socotra, located near Somalia in the Gulf of Aden, is protected by the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO as a world heritage site, meaning that even the Yemeni government is not allowed to interfere in the natural habitats and places of natural beauty in the area.

Some say the UAE is seeking to illegally exploit the natural resources of the island and turn the place into a tourism hub. To win public support among Socotra’s population of 60,000, UAE authorities have arranged free tours for Socotra's residents to Abu Dhabi, while offering free healthcare and special work permits.

The last week deployment sparked angry reactions among residents of Socotra as reports suggested that people had taken to the streets to protest the increasing presence of the UAE forces. Crowds were also angry about reports that Emirati forces had expelled Hadi's forces assigned to protect the main airport in the island.

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