Yemen’s Houthi-led National Salvation Government (NSG) has condemned the Saudi-led coalition, and more precisely the UAE, over recent controversies relating to the country’s Socotra island and the Mayun island in the Bab El-Mandeb Strait.
On Monday, the NSG’s Tourism Ministry issued a statement accusing the UAE of violating international law following reports that it had illegally transferred Israeli tourists to Socotra, where it is widely seen as an occupying force.
“The transfer of tourists to the Socotra Island reveals the plans and programs of the occupying UAE, which are in line with the Zionist schemes to dominate Yemeni islands as well as the steps towards normalization with the regime,” the statement said.
As the UAE have been running tours, including direct flights and issuing visas without the permission of the Yemeni authorities, including the internationally-recognised government, such trips are deemed illegal and a violation of Yemen’s sovereignty.
It was also reported on Sunday by Al-Masirah, that the NSG’s Prime Minister Abdulaziz Bin Habtoor denounced joint-plans by the UAE and Israel to construct a spy base on the island in addition to on-going construction of an air base on the strategically located Mayun island.
Haboor warned that the “creation of any facility by the Saudi-led coalition on occupied lands would not only directly affect the security and safety of Yemen, but threaten entire region.” Habtoor also mentioned the Saudi’s occupying presence in the eastern province of Al-Mahra among the violations of Yemen’s sovereignty.
He called for an immediate end to violations that serve “the Zionist agenda” in the region and held the UN and the Security Council responsible for the ongoing war against Yemen.
According to a recent Brookings report, both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are seeking to consolidate their strategic positions in Yemen. In controlling Mahrah, the Saudis have gained direct access to the Indian Ocean, with plans to build a pipeline from the kingdom’s Eastern Province to the sea, thereby avoiding dependence on the Straits of Hormuz.
The UAE on the other hand, in occupying the Mayun and Socotra, would be in a key position to controlling the Bab El-Mandeb and the Gulf of Aden, while also gathering intelligence on maritime traffic.