On May 13, Colonel Turki al-Malki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, announced in an official statement that units of the Saudi Army had been deployed on the Yemeni island of Socotra in coordination with the government of Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.
According to Col. al-Malik, Saudi Army units will conduct joint training exercises there along with pro-Hadi forces and units of UAE Army units, which were deployed on the Yemeni island on May 9.
Observers believe that the deployment of Saudi troops is aimed at de-escalating the tension between Hadi’s government and the UAE. The Saudi-backed president had opposed the deployment of UAE troops at Socotra.
The Qatari Al-Jazzera TV reported that many locals took at the streets in the capital of Socotra Island, Hadibu, last week to protest against the presence of UAE troops, despite that the Houthis have never had any notable influince on the Yemeni Island.
“These forces are present in Socotra and al-Mahra in numbers that can’t be understood,” said Abdullah bin Issa al-Aafra of the Al-Mahra and Socotra People’s General Council commenting on the crisis, according to al-Jazeera.
Many Yemeni politicians on both sides of the conflict have accused the UAE of planning to annex Socotra Island for geopolitical and financial reasons. However, observers doubt that any side, including Saudi Arbia, would accept such a bold move that could further destabilize Yemen and fuel crisis within the Saudi-led coalition.