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The New Arab

UAE boosts military presence on 'occupied' Yemen Socotra island

The Emiratis have been expanding their influence in southern Yemen [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 May, 2018

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The United Arab Emirates has boosted its military presence on a remote Yemeni island, which the Gulf state has been accused of "occupying", sources told The New Arab.

The United Arab Emirates has boosted its military presence on a remote Yemeni island, which the Gulf state has been accused of "occupying", sources told The New Arab.

Three Emirati cargo planes landed on Socotra on Wednesday evening and unloaded troops and military equipment, as the prime minister of the internationally recognised government visits the island.

"Around 100 soldiers arrived with tanks, armoured transports and heavy equipment," local sources said.

"As soon as they landed they deployed throughout the airport and expelled security forces there,"

They added that the "surprise deployment" was not coordinated with local authorities.

Yemeni security officials said this has triggered local resentment because it has been seen as an affront to Yemen's internationally recognised government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations.

Hadi's government is at odds with the UAE, formally an ally in the war against Yemen's Houthi rebels.

The Emiratis have been expanding their influence in southern Yemen.

UAE forces and aid organisations have been on Socotra Island, which sits near the mouth of the Gulf of Aden, since a deadly cyclone struck in November 2015.

Reports claim that Hadi leased the island to the Emiratis for some 99 years before fleeing the country to Riyadh in 2014.

Prior to that, aerial images allegedly showing Emirati military bases on the island were widely shared on social media, causing anger among Yemenis who accused the UAE of attempting to "occupy" the heritage site.

A Saudi-led coalition, which also includes the UAE, has been battling Houthis for the past three years to restore Hadi to power.

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