Socotra as Emirati Diego Garcia!

Socotra has gradually turned into a rear base for Abu Dhabi

Socotra map

Socotra in the Indian Ocean is located some 80 kilometres off Somalia and 380 kilometres South of the Yemeni coastline.

Socotra Island: the Emirates hold the wild card in Yemeni conflict

With Abu Dhabi reluctantly beginning to accept talks with the Moslem Brotherhood, the United Arab Emirates is gradually gaining control of Socotra island lying off the country.

Socotra, a Yemenite island in the Arabian Sea close to the eastern entrance to the Gulf of Aden, has gradually turned into a rear base for Abu Dhabi so that it can continue to deploy its forces in Yemen.

The archipelago is currently headed by a pro-Emirati governor, Ahmed Abdullah Ali Al Socotri, who took office in June 2017. Backed by Al Socotri, UAE strongman Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nayhan has been beavering away in recent months to strengthen his grip on the island. The Abu Dhabi crown prince already has a local army of 5,000 “special forces” troops whom he pays and trains. At present the UAE controls all port and airports on the island. In addition, Abu Dhabi has begun building a military base that will serve as an “Emirati Diego Garcia”. Indeed, Socotra is highly strategic inasmuch as it controls the entrance to the Gulf of Aden from the Indian Ocean side.

Zayed is especially determined to retain his dominating position in Socotra because he has been rather forced to adjust his agenda in the horse-trading between political parties in Yemen. In recent weeks he put his money on Ahmed Saleh, son of the recently deceased former Yemeni president Ali Abdallah Saleh to become leader of the Arab coalition in its fight against the Houthi militia (IOL 796). But his Saudi ally, the all-powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has forced him to talk with the leading Yemenite Islamist movement, Al Islah.

The Emirati leader agreed to travel to Riyadh on December 13 to meet with Mohammed Al Yadumi and Abdul Wahab Al Ansi, respectively the chairman and secretary general of Al Islah. Zayed brought along his security adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed to the meeting while his Saudi counterpart was accompanied by general Khaled bin Ali Al Humaidan, chief of the General Intelligence Presidency (GIP).

The meeting had been prepared beforehand in an initial encounter between Salman and the chairman of Al Islah on November 9.

Despite his reticence, the Mohamed bin Zayed was finally persuaded to consider an alliance with the Islamist movement following the assassination of former president Saleh on December 4, with whom the Emiratis had been holding secret talks for several months.

Indeed, following the fall of Sanaa to the Houthi militia, the Saleh family lost all influence in the capital in early December. Saleh’s party, the General People’s Congress, was forced out of the city, as was also Yemen’s Republican Guard when Houthi militiamen took Sanaa from the Saleh clan.

Source: INTON, December 27, 2017
© Copyright 2017 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Yemen calls on UAE occupation forces to stop destroying Socotra

UAE army

UAE defence military vehicles [file photo]

SANAA, Jan 16, 2018 (Saba) – Yemen’s Ministry of Tourism called on the United Arab Emirates occupation forces to stop destroying the Yemeni Island of Socotra, in a statement obtained by Saba on Tuesday.

The ministry urged the United Nations and the Security Council to accelerate adopting an international resolution to prevent the occupying forces from spoiling the territory of the Socotra Archipelago and its natural resources.

The ministry called on the UN to press UAE to get out from the Yemeni island.

“In an unprecedented event, the UAE has called the people of the island to vote on a referendum of self-determination to join them, and this is the most dangerous step,” the ministry said.

The ministry condemned the continuation of excavation and dredging by the UAE forces.

Source: Yemen News Agency, January, 2018
© 2018 All Rights Reserved.

UAE Admits Military Presence on Yemen’s Socotra Island

The Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) distributing relief aid to the people of Socotra.

TEHRAN (FNA)- The United Arab Emirates acknowledged that the county’s military is active in Yemen’s Socotra claiming that it has sent military recruits to train in battle skills, weapons training and first aid on the Yemeni Island.

UAE authorities said Emirati military recruits are being trained on the Yemeni island, and the announcement is a confirmation by Abu Dhabi on UAE’s military activities in Socotra after several years of rumours, New Arab reported.

The training on Socotra Island, described as “intensive” by the UAE’s state-run WAM news agency, includes battle skills, weapons training and first aid.

Socotra, an island 300 miles off the Southern coast of Yemen and listed as a UNESCO world heritage site for its unique flora and fauna, has recently been the topic of dispute due to the UAE’s influence on the island.

UAE forces and aid organizations have been on Socotra Island, which sits near the mouth of the Gulf of Aden, since a deadly cyclone struck in November 2015.

Unconfirmed reports claim that President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi leased the island to the Emiratis for some 99 years before fleeing the country to Riyadh in 2014.

Prior to that, aerial images allegedly showing Emirati military bases on the island were widely shared on social media, causing anger among Yemenis accusing the UAE of attempting to ‘appropriate’ the heritage site.

The UAE, while hosting some 5,000 US troops, is increasingly flexing its own military muscle in the region by opening bases abroad.

Emirati forces have military outposts in several areas in Yemen as part of an ongoing Saudi-led war waging war on the Arab country, which has left more than 14,000 dead since March 2015.

Source: FARS news Agency, May 16, 2017
© 2017, FARS News Agency, All rights Reserved.

UAE politics: The Gulf’s little Sparta

 UAE map

The United Arab Emirates: The Gulf’s little Sparta Driven by an energetic prince, the UAE is building bases far beyond its borders

TUCKED away behind rows of tin shacks and unkempt acacia trees, a cluster of tumbledown villas, mosques and a synagogue conjures up the grandeur of a port that once marked the southern tip of the Ottoman Empire. “Berbera is the true key of the Red Sea, the centre of east African traffic, and the only safe place for shipping upon the western Erythraean shore,” wrote Richard Burton, a British traveller, in 1855. “Occupation [by the British]…has been advised for many reasons.”

After the British came the Russians and in the 1980s NASA, America’s space agency, which wanted its runway, one of Africa’s longest, as an emergency stop for its space shuttle. Now the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is Berbera’s latest arriviste. On March 1st DP World, a port operator based in Dubai, began working from Berbera’s beach side hotel. Officials put little Emirati flags on their desks, and refined plans to turn a harbour serving the breakaway republic of Somaliland into a gateway to the 100m people of one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, Ethiopia. Three weeks later the UAE unveiled another deal for a 25-year lease of air and naval bases alongside. The agreement, rejoiced a Somaliland minister in the hotel café, amounted to the first economic recognition of his tiny republic. It would fill the government’s coffers, and bolster its fledgling army. Businessmen sat at his table discussing solar power stations, rocketing land prices and plans for a Kempinski hotel.

Berbera is but the latest of a string of ports the UAE is acquiring along some of the world’s busiest shipping routes. From Dubai’s Jebel Ali, the Middle East’s largest port, it is extending its reach along the southern rim of Arabia, up the Horn of Africa to Eritrea (from where the UAE’S corvettes and a squadron of Mirage bombers wage war in Yemen), and on to Limassol and Benghazi in the Mediterranean. Fears that Iran or Sunni jihadists might get there first–particularly as the region’s Arab heavyweights, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, seem to flounder–propel the advance.

“If we waited to prevent these threats at our borders, we might be overrun,” explains Ebtesam al-Ketbi, who heads a think-tank in Abu Dhabi. The UAE also worries that rivals might tempt trade away from Jebel Ali, awkwardly situated deep inside the Gulf. Rapid port expansion at Chabahar in Iran, Duqm in Oman and King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia all pose a challenge.

But as the expansion accelerates, observers are asking whether the UAE is bent on “the pursuit of regional influence”, as Ms al-Ketbi puts it, for its own sake. Most analysts ascribe this push to Abu Dhabi’s 56-year-old crown prince, Muhammad bin Zayed. He is the deputy commander of the UAE’s armed forces, and the younger brother of the emir of Abu Dhabi, who is also the president of the UAE.

On the prince’s watch, the UAE has gone from being a haven mindful of its own business into the Arab world’s most interventionist regime. Flush with petrodollars, he has turned the tiny country, whose seven component emirates have a combined population of almost 10m (only about 1m of whom are citizens), into the world’s third-largest importer of arms. He has recruited hundreds of mercenaries, and has even talked of colonising Mars.

Hurricane Muhammad

In 2014 he imposed military conscription on his pampered citizens, and sent dozens to their deaths in the Saudi-led campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Before becoming America’s defence secretary, General James Mattis dubbed the UAE “little Sparta”. Join the dots of the ports it controls, and some even see the old Sultanate of Oman and Zanzibar, from which the emirates sprang, arising afresh.

The UAE has won Berbera and Eritrea’s Asaab base by agreement, but elsewhere it applies force. In July 2015 it defied doubters, including the Saudis, by capturing Aden, once the British Empire’s busiest port. “They have the only [Arab] expeditionary capability in the region,” oozes a Western diplomat, fulsome in his praise of the UAE’s special forces, who mounted an amphibious landing to seize Aden from the Houthis.

With the help of American SEALs, Emirati soldiers have since then taken the ports of Mukalla and Shihr, 500km (300 miles) east, and two Yemeni islands in the Bab al-Mandab strait, past which 4m barrels of oil pass every day. The crown prince has seen off Qatari interest in Socotra, a strategic Yemeni island, by sending aid (after a hurricane) and then construction companies, which a Western diplomat fancies may build an Emirati version of Diego Garcia, the Indian Ocean atoll where America has a large military base. While Saudi Arabia struggles to make gains in Yemen, Emirati-led troops earlier this year marched into Mokha port and are setting their sights on Hodeidah, Yemen’s largest port and the last major one outside Emirati control.

The prince has also backed separatists in Somalia, helping to stand up both Puntland, by funding its Maritime Police Force, and Somaliland. And in Libya, he has sent military support to Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, an autonomous force in the east of the country. To Turkey’s fury, the UAE opened an embassy in Cyprus last year and is involved in military exercises with Greece and Israel.

But sceptics worry about the dangers of overreach and the potential for clashing with greater powers crowding into the Red Sea. On its western shores Israel, France and the United States already have big bases. China is building a port in Djibouti. Iranian generals look to establish their own naval bases on Yemen’s rebel-held coast. And though formally part of the same coalition in Yemen, some Saudi princes are looking askance at their ambitious junior partners. In February Saudi- and Emirati-backed forces fought each other over control of Aden’s airport. Saudi Arabia’s princes have also hosted Somalia’s president, who criticises the Emirates’ Berbera base as “unconstitutional”. Some wonder what the prince’s father and the UAE’s founder, Sheikh Zayed Al Nahayan, would have made of it all. “Be obedient to Allah and use your intelligence instead of resorting to arms,” he used to counsel when fellow Arabs went to war.

Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, April 08, 2017
© 2017 The Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd.

UAE deploys military forces to Yemeni island for training

UAE army2

The UAE Armed Forces concluded a training course of a new batch of Yemeni military personnel who were rehabilitated to join the armed forces in Yemen. January 29, 2016.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) says it has deployed military recruits to Yemen’s strategic Socotra Island for training purposes.

The UAE’s official WAM news agency reported late on Monday that the intensive” training program included exercises to enhance battle skills, weapons’ use, and first aid.

Emirati forces and aid organizations have been stationed on Socotra Island since November 2015.

Last February, reports suggested that Yemen’s former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, had rented out Socotra to the UAE for 99 years in an attempt to get Abu Dhabi’s support amid the conflict gripping the impoverished country.

Last month, an Emirati airline reportedly launched flights between Abu Dhabi and Socotra —–.

The island was part of Yemen’s Hadhramaut Province but was introduced as an independent governorate in a 2013 decree by Hadi.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a brutal military campaign against Yemen for more than two years to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly Hadi. The Saudi military campaign has, however, failed to achieve its goals.

Saudi Arabia receives backing in the war from a number of its client states, including the UAE. There have, however, been some indications that Saudi Arabia and the UAE disagree on a number of issues over the war on Yemen.

The protracted war has already killed over 12,000 Yemenis, according to recent tallies.

Source: Iran daily, May 16, 2017
© 2017, Iran Daily, All rights Reserved.


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