News ID: 90899
Publish Date : 01 June 2021 - 22:02

SANAA (Dispatches) -- Yemen has strongly condemned a recent move by the United Arab Emirates to transfer Zionist tourists to the strategic island of Socotra on Emirati visas.
The Yemeni Tourism Ministry said in a statement that the UAE’s measure violates international law, given that Socotra is a Yemeni island occupied by the aggressor countries of the Saudi-led coalition, Saba Net news agency reported.
“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,” it said.
Two weeks ago, Yemeni sources said the UAE is continuing to operate weekly direct flights and tours to Socotra without authorization from the government.
Hundreds of foreign tourists have arrived on the archipelago over the past few days using visas granted to them by Abu Dhabi, the sources added.
The development came more than eight months after the UAE established full diplomatic relations with the Tel Aviv regime in a deal brokered by former U.S. president Donald Trump.
Home to some 60,000 people, Socotra overlooks the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a main shipping route that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. It has a unique ecosystem and been listed by UNESCO as a world natural heritage site.
Last June, the UAE-backed separatists of the so-called Southern Transitional Council (STC) took control of the resource-rich island in a move described as a “coup” by the regime of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Now, the Emiratis have a military base in Socotra that is used to collect intelligence on maritime traffic in the Bab el-Mandeb and the Gulf of Aden. Moreover, they are reportedly working with the Israelis to set up spy bases on the Yemeni island.
The occupation of Socotra came two months after the UAE-backed separatists broke with once-allied Saudi-sponsored pro-Hadi militants in Yemen, saying they would establish a self-ruled administration in the war-torn country’s southern regions.
The infighting has dealt a blow to the Riyadh-led military coalition, which has been engaged in a military campaign against Yemen since March 2015 with the aim of reinstalling Hadi in Sana’a.
The Western-sponsored bombing campaign has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and plunged the impoverished state into what the UN says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
U.S. research group the Brookings Institute said last week Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are quietly consolidating their foothold in Yemen by setting up bases in strategic locations in the war-torn country.
The Saudis have focused their attention on the Eastern governorate or province of Al-Mahrah,
Yemen’s second largest, which borders on Oman, it said.
Beginning in 2017, the Saudis gradually took control of Al-Mahrah. They occupied the capital and the port and took control of the border posts with Oman. Saudi troops now control the province. Human Rights Watch has reported the Saudis and local allied tribes have used force, torture, and arbitrary detention to squelch any opposition to their occupation. The Saudis have 20 bases and outposts in the province now.
Abu Dhabi is also in control of Socotra. Socotra has 60,000 residents and is the largest island in the archipelago also named Socotra. Historically it was part of the Sultanate of Mahra before becoming part of the PDRY. The Emiratis have a military base which is used to collect intelligence on maritime traffic in the Bab el-Mandeb and the Gulf of Aden.

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