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Yemen complains to UN about UAE military occupation of Socotra Island

The UAE has been accused of occupying the Yemeni island of Socotra [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 May, 2018

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The government of Yemen President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi submitted a complaint against the UAE's 'unjustified military actions'.
Yemen's internationally-recognised government has filed an official complaint to the UN Security council against the UAE, slamming Abu Dhabi's "unjustified military actions" on the Yemeni island of Socotra.

The government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi - which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition, of which the UAE plays a pivotal role - submitted the complaint on 5 May.

"The government of the Republic of Yemen considers the recent military deployment of United Arab Emirates troops and armoured vehicles, including tanks, in the Yemeni island of Socotra on 30 April 2018, as an unjustified military actions," the statement read.

Emirati forces took control of the island's air and sea ports and informed the local authorities - including Yemeni customs, security and intelligence officers - that they are "dismissed until further notice", the statement read.

The UAE - which plays a crucial part in the coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen - is facing widespread criticism among Yemenis and politicians alike, after it deployed hundreds of soldiers to Socotra.

The apparent surprise deployment was carried out without the knowledge of the Hadi government, which controls the island, a Yemeni government source said.

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

The seizure of the airport and the seaport of Socotra "does not fall within the parameters" of Arab coalition operations, the statement added.

Socotra - which sits at the exit of a bustling shipping lane that leads from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean - has been spared the violence that has ravaged mainland Yemen.

Although the UAE has played a role in the Saudi-led coalition's fight against the Houthis, it also recently distanced itself from Riyadh-based President Hadi.

The Emiratis have instead been expanding their influence in southern Yemen, and also back separatists who wrenched control of the south of the country from Hadi in January.

Yemen's president - who has been stationed in Riyadh since the Houthis overran the capital and other major cities - had requested the aid of the coalition to push back the Houthi rebels in 2014.

The coalition's intervention in Yemen has left more than 10,000 dead, and heavily contributed to what the UN has described as "the world's worst humanitarian crisis".

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