The United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s forces in the city of Mukalla, southern Yemen, will continue to use part of the Al-Rayyan International Airport for military purposes.
Al-Khaleej Online quoted an unnamed source as saying that one of the main reasons for delaying the reopening of the airport is to secure a military headquarters for the UAE forces within it.
The Al-Rayyan airport remained closed for three years after Al-Qaeda militants were expelled from the city. It had been used by Emirati forces as a military base and a detention centre.
“Yemenis, including civilian and military officials in the governorate are not allowed to enter the airport or see its premises which indicates that the UAE forces intend to continue using it for a long time,” the source said.
The UAE’s exploitation of the airport has caused great controversy in Yemen because the airport has not suffered any damage in the war raising questions about the UAE forces’ claim that they are carrying out maintenance work.
Many Yemenis view the airport maintenance claim as an Emirati cover to justify its continued closure.
Yemeni activists have accused the UAE of detaining hundreds of Yemenis in secret prisons inside Al-Rayyan airport for more than three years.