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Top Yemeni official urges UAE to withdraw from Socotra Island immediately

A view of the Yemeni Socotra Island

A high-ranking official from Yemen’s National Salvation Government has warned the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against the illegal presence of its forces in the strategic island of Socotra, calling on Abu Dhabi to withdraw its mercenaries from there immediately.

Yemen’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein al-Ezzi said in a post on Twitter on Tuesday that “Socotra is in the heart of 40 million Yemenis, and the UAE must arrange evacuation and departure procedures as soon as possible.”

Observers believe that this message is a warning that Yemeni forces may attack UAE mercenaries at any moment and liberate Socotra.

Home to some 60,000 people, Socotra overlooks the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a main shipping route that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. It has a unique ecosystem.

Back in mid-September last year, Yemen News Agency, citing local sources, reported that the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates had signed a contract with the Tel Aviv regime in order to create an intelligence center for the Israeli air force at Socotra Airport.

The French-language news outlet JForum said in August 2020 that Israel, in cooperation with the UAE, was planning to build intelligence-gathering bases on the Socotra island.

The purpose of the bases, according to the report, is to electronically monitor Saudi-led forces waging a war on Yemen.

Israel and the UAE are currently making all logistical preparations to establish intelligence bases to collect information from across the Gulf of Aden, including Bab el-Mandeb and south of Yemen, which is under the control of forces backed by the UAE, the report said.

Socotra has been a source of tension between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which have been vying for control of the resource-rich island.

UAE-backed separatists of the so-called Southern Transitional Council (STC) took control of Socotra in June 2020, in a move described by the administration of fugitive former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, as “a full-fledged coup.”

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