A mysterious air base is being built on the Yemeni Island of Mayun which sits on the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait, the Associated Press (AP) reported on May 25.
Satellite images from April 11 show dump trucks and graders building a 1.85 kilometer runway on the island. In newer images, from May 18, the work on the runway appeared complete, with three hangars constructed on a tarmac south of the runway.
Yemeni officials told AP that the mysterious air base is being built by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, UAE officials declined to comment.
In 2019, the UAE announced that it had withdrawn its troops from Yemen, where they were battling the Houthis (Ansar Allah) in the framework of the Saudi-led coalition.
Military officials in Yemen’s Saudi-backed government told the AP that the UAE is building the air base on Mayun. According to the officials, Emirati ships transported military weapons, equipment and troops to the Island in recent weeks.
The officials claimed that the recent tension between the UAE and the Saudi-backed Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was the result of an Emirati demand for his government to sign a 20-year lease agreement for Mayun.
The UAE is building a large air base on Perim island, off of Yemen, on the Bab al-Mandab strait. Will Israel gain use of the base? Djibouti, less than 20 miles away, houses both a US and a Chinese base. Yemen, generally speaking, is increasingly an Iranian base of operations. pic.twitter.com/4R4FccYCl9
— Mike (@Doranimated) May 25, 2021
UAE forces landed on Mayun in 2015. The Houthis were expelled from the Island, which oversees one of the world’s crucial maritime routes for both energy shipments and commercial cargo. In 2016, satellite images showed construction underway there. An attempt by the UAE to build a long 3 km runway was made and failed.
The runway that was built on Mayun this year has a length of 1.85 km, which is still enough to support cargo aircraft and drones.
Mayun is not the only Yemeni Island where UAE military activities were reported. Last year, several sources reported a UAE-Israeli plan to build a joint spy base on the strategic Yemeni Island of Socotra, which is held by the Southern Transitional Council, Abu Dahbi’s main proxy in Yemen.
Both sides of the conflict in Yemen do not appear to pleased with the UAE repeated attempts to establish a lasting foothold on one of the country’s islands.
- Military Situation In Yemen On May 26, 2021 (Map Update)
- Military Situation In Yemen On May 25, 2021 (Map Update)