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Street protests continue on Yemen's Socotra island over growing UAE presence Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Street protests continue on Yemen's Socotra island over growing UAE presence

The UAE has carved out a zone of influence in southern Yemen [Twitter]

Date of publication: 7 May, 2018

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Protesters on the Yemeni island of Socotra have organised new rallies against the United Arab Emirates' growing presence at the world natural heritage site.
Protesters on the Yemeni island of Socotra have organised new rallies against the United Arab Emirates' growing presence at the world natural heritage site.

Hundreds of Socotri islanders gathered in the principal city Hadibu on Monday, waving Yemeni flags and chanting slogans against "Emirati occupation" of the island, The New Arab's Arabic-language website reported.

The protesters demanded Emirati troops withdraw from the island and chanted slogans in support of Yemen's internationally recognised government led by President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Protesters called on Hadi's government to protect Socotra's unique natural environment from what they said was damage caused by Emirati construction projects on the island.

Activist-run Socotra News  published videos of the protests.

Social media users also voice anger at Emirati presence on the island using the Arabic-language hashtag meaning: "Socotra will not become the UAE's eighth emirate".

On Saturday, women on the island held a similar protest.

The UAE said on Sunday its role on the strategic Yemeni territory had been "distorted".

The Emirati foreign ministry denied that it has overreached in Socotra after it deployed around 300 forces to vital institutions in the island, including the airport, the ports, the government's headquarters, and kicked out the Yemeni forces.

The UAE is a major pillar in a Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen's rebels known as Houthis under the banner of restoring the authority of Hadi.

Splits have emerged, however, in the pro-government camp.

In January, the government's de facto capital of Aden was rocked by deadly clashes that saw UAE-backed forces seize much of the city from other pro-government forces.

The UAE has carved out a zone of influence in southern Yemen over the past two years, setting up prisons and militias.

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

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