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Tensions erupt over UAE 'occupation' of Yemen's Socotra

Tensions erupt over UAE 'occupation' of Yemen's Socotra

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

Some say the UAE is seeking to illegally exploit the natural resources of the island and turn the place into a tourism hub.

Thousands of the island's residents were left homeless and starving while "the government" launched a public-relations campaign celebrating their alleged launch of humanitarian relief projects, the former governor alleged.

According to a Yemeni government official speaking to Al Jazeera, UAE forces have occupied sea and airports on the remote island, and blocked Dagher from leaving on Friday.

The remarks came after Abu Dhabi deployed some 300 soldiers, along with tanks and artillery, to Socotra Island on April 30 without informing the Yemeni government-in-exile of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Socotra, a UNESCO heritage site home to some 60,000 people, has a 3,000-metre-long runway, ideal for fighter jets and large military aircraft.

Abdulrahman Juma'an, a journalist from Socotra, was among demonstrators on the island, who turned out to show their supporting for the UAE.

Island Scorta was isolated from the land millions of years ago. The images of UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, also known as MBZ, now adorn official buildings.

Since 2015, the UAE has been a key partner in the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthis in northern Yemen under the auspices of restoring Hadi's authority.

The deployment was reportedly carried out without prior coordination with the Yemeni government.

The last week deployment sparked angry reactions among residents of Socotra as reports suggested that people had taken to the streets to protest the increasing presence of the UAE forces.

"The UAE affirmed the need of concentration in this stage on confronting the Houthi danger, rather than distracting the Arab Coalition's efforts by triggering unrealistic side tensions that only serve the Houthis and avail them opportunities to pursue their coup and hijack Yemen and its capabilities".

The newspaper, citing unanimous USA officials and European diplomats, said on Thursday that a team of about a dozen Green Berets were sent to the area in December previous year.

In another related development Turki Al-Maliki, the spokesman of the Saudi led coalition, in a statement shared on his twitter handle, said that bringing peace and security to Yemen will bring peace and security to Saudi Arabia, the GCC and the region.

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