On June 19, forces of the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) captured Socotra island’s municipal area following a short battle with forces of the Aden-based Saudi-backed government.
The battle, which began in the early morning, saw the use of heavy weapons by STC forces. After resisting for a few hours, Saudi-backed forces withdrew from the municipal area that is located in the island’s largest town, Hadiboh.
A day earlier, Saudi forces, which were deployed in Socotra as guarantor, withdrew from a key checkpoint in Hadiboh. The forces’ headquarters is located a few meter away from the municipal council that was captured by the STC.
المجلس الانتقالي الجنوبي يرفع أعلام “الانفصال” على المبان الحكومية في “حديبو” عاصمة أرخبيل سقطرى pic.twitter.com/7PbbbFsuI4
— يمن مونيتور (@YeMonitor) June 19, 2020
مبنى محافظة سقطرى حديبو تم تحريره من مليشيات حزب الإصلاح الإرهابي… pic.twitter.com/TVoSB4AiDD
— أفنااان… (@afnan66555) June 19, 2020
بعد استكمال السيطره علئ حديبو عاصمة ارخبيل سقطره مندوب التالف في سقطره يقول ليسة هناك حاضنه شعبيه للشرعيه وغالب ابناء سقطره يناصرون الانتقالي والقوات السقطريه تعلن ولاءها للانتقالي pic.twitter.com/9M8XbeRRAk
— محمد سيف النقيب (@sXsq4J3QZacHbJN) June 19, 2020
Rafat Al-Shukili, head of the STC in Socotra, told AFP that the new attack was launched to “clear the capital [Hadiboh] from terrorists’ remnants.”
This was the fourth such an attack by the STC on Saudi-backed forces in Socotra. The Saudi-led coalition is yet to comment on the issue.
The UAE has been working to establish a lasting influence in Socotra since the beginning of the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen in 2015. The UAE first tried to win the hearts and minds of the locals by channeling investments and aid to the island. Now, Abu Dhabi is using STC forces to strengthen its influence in the island in a more aggressive manner.
The Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Houthis both warned in the past that the UAE is planning to annex the island.