Yemen PM: Crisis over UAE deployment to Socotra over

Yemeni flag ‘flying above sea and airports again’ after dispute ‘almost divided’ Saudi-led coalition, says bin Daghr.

Children play among fishing boats on the beach at Qalensiya, the second biggest town on Socotra island February 1, 2008. Socotra is located in the Arabian Sea, 380 km (238 miles) south of mainland Yem
Socotra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been spared involvement in the conflict [File: Reuters]

A dispute between Yemen and the United Arab Emirates over the deployment of Emirati troops to the island of Socotra has been resolved, according to a Yemeni official.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, Yemen’s prime minister, said “the crisis on the island is over” and that the Yemeni flag was “flying above our sea and airports again”.

He said the dispute had “almost divided” a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in northern Yemen to restore the country’s internationally recognised government to power.

The resolution of the weeks-long dispute came a day after Saudi Arabia deployed troops to the strategic island and signed a deal with the UAE to return the island’s sea and airports to Yemeni forces, according to state-run Saba news agency.

The crisis over Socotra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, began when the UAE deployed about 300 soldiers, along with tanks and artillery, to the island at the beginning of May.

Angry protests

Emirati forces seized all vital institutions there, including the airport, the ports and the government headquarters, according to residents.

The move triggered angry protests.  

Hashim Saad al-Saqatri, Socotra’s governor, at the time condemned the UAE move as “occupation”, saying it represented “a flagrant violation of Yemeni sovereignty”, according to Saba.

Yemen and the UAE are allies in the Saudi-led coalition, but relations between the two countries soured amid concerns among Yemeni officials over the UAE’s growing influence in southern Yemen.  

The UAE has set up prisons and armed groups in the region, causing officials of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government to accuse Emirati troops of behaving like an “occupier”.

Socotra had been spared involvement in the Yemeni conflict, which has claimed nearly 10,000 lives since March 2015 and triggered what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies