On May 27, the Saudi-led coalition denied the presence of forces from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the Yemeni islands of Scotra and Mayun.
Earlier this week, a report by the Associated Press revealed that a mysterious air base is being built on Mayun Island. Sources in the Saudi-backed Yemeni government told the news agency that the UAE was behind the base.
Furthermore, reports from last year alleged that the UAE and Israel were secretly working to build a joint spy base on Socotra island.
In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), an unmanned official in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen dismissed these reports.
“The current news circulating in regards to the presence of UAE forces on the Islands of Socotra and Mayun [Perim] are baseless and unfounded,” the official said. “All equipment currently present on Mayun Island are under the control of the Coalition Command, and are situated there in order to enable the Yemeni legitimacy forces and Coalition forces to counter the Houthi militia, secure maritime navigation and support the West Coast forces. The current UAE efforts are focused within Coalition forces on providing air support in defense of Ma’rib.”
The official went on to affirm that respecting the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Yemen is “at the top” of the “established and fundamental principles” of the Saudi-led coalition.
In 2019, the UAE announced that it had withdrawn its troops from Yemen. Despite this, the country remained an active member of the Saudi-led coalition, which has been battling the Houthis (Ansar Allah) since March 26 of 2015.
The coalition’s presence in Mayun would allow it to keep a close eye on Bab al-Mandab Strait, one of the world’s crucial maritime routes for both energy shipments and commercial cargo. Meanwhile, Socotra remains under the control of the Southern Transitional Council, the UAE’s main proxy in Yemen.
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