SANA’A (Dispatches) – Saudi Arabia has acknowledged that it has constructed a military base on an island in the Bab al-Mandab strait to fight the Sana’a-based government.
An unnamed official with the Saudi-led coalition said in a Thursday statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency that all equipment currently present on Yemen’s volcanic Mayyun Island is under its control, adding that the move is aimed at countering Yemeni army forces.
On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that “a mysterious air base” is being built on the Mayyun Island, publishing satellite images of the center with a 1.85km runway alongside three hangars.
Initially, former Yemeni regime officials were cited as saying that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was behind the military build-up on the island.
However, the Saudi official said “reports in the media with regard to the presence of UAE forces on the Islands of Socotra and Mayyun are baseless and unfounded.”
In response to the developments, Yemen’s Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf Abdullah warned that the UAE’s measures on the Socotra and Mayyun islands are in violation of international law.
Sharaf Abdullah said Yemen will not keep silent over such illegal measures by the Emiratis on Yemeni soil, Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen news network reported.
“If you do not leave our lands and islands, the lava of fire will soon reach you,” he warned the UAE.
“We advise the rulers of Abu Dhabi to maintain their lands and government within the borders of the UAE. We remind the rulers of Abu Dhabi that Yemen will be able to return them to their sanity,” the Yemeni minister added.
The island which was occupied by Saudi-led forces and mercenaries in 2015, is located in the Red Sea on one of the world’s crucial maritime trade routes for energy shipments and commercial cargo.
Saudi Arabia and its allies, the UAE in particular, have been waging a deadly war on Yemen since March 2015 to return Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to power.
The war – which the Saudis claimed would last only a few weeks but is still ongoing – has killed more than 230,000 people in what the United Nations has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The Saudi war has also destroyed much of Yemen’s infrastructure, and according to the UN, it has caused outbreaks of disease, and brought the poor Arab country to the brink of famine.
In the latest artillery attack by the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen’s northwestern province of Sa’ada, at least three people have been killed.
Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network that the civilians lost their lives on Thursday as Saudi-led troops shelled al-Raqou area in the Monabbih district of the province.
A security source said the bodies of the victims had arrived at the Republican Hospital of the provincial capital city of Sa’ada.
Late on Wednesday, Saudi fighter jets launched eight airstrikes against the Sirwah district in Yemen’s strategic central province of Ma’rib, but there were no immediate reports about possible casualties and the extent of damage caused.