Inside Story

Why have southern Yemen separatists seized Socotra?

UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council fighters take over remote Arabian Sea island.

The latest flashpoint in Yemen’s five-year war is a remote island in the Arabian Sea.

Socotra is sometimes compared with the famous Galapagos islands in the Pacific. The plants and animals on the World Heritage Site are found nowhere else on Earth.

Now they are in a war zone.

The Southern Transitional Council (STC) in southern Yemen has deposed the island’s governor and declared self-rule.

The fighters are backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Yemen’s internationally-recognised government, supported by Saudi Arabia, calls the takeover a “coup”.

So what makes the island so valuable to Yemen’s warring sides? And how will the events affect efforts to end the conflict?

Presenter: Imran Khan


Raiman al-Hamdani – research fellow on Yemen at the European Council for Foreign Relations

Elisabeth Kendall – senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford

Nabeel Khoury – senior researcher at the Atlantic Council Center for Studies and a former US deputy chief of mission in Yemen