Socotra, Yemen – Once-allied rival terrorists, backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE respectively, engaged in intense clashes in Yemen’s strategic Socotra Island, exposing a deep rift in the Riyadh-led coalition. Clashes erupted between Saudi-backed mercenaries loyal to former President Hadi and the UAE-backed armed units of the so-called Southern Transitional Council, over the control of Socotra, PressTV reported.
Witnesses also told local media that the UAE-aligned elements had fired artillery shells at residential areas around Socotra’s provincial capital of Hadibo. Shells struck the mountainous district of Haybat, about 20 kilometers outside Hadibo, said resident Aden al-Ghad.
Yemen’s former Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr tweeted that the UAE-backed terrorists were trying to take control of Socotra’s provincial capital, “using all types of heavy weapons”. Some reports indicated that the STC’s military units had seized control of a coast guard battalion of the Saudi mercenaries and looted weapons and ammunition stores.
Yemen’s al-Masirah TV network said Friday’s clashes followed the arrival of an Emirati ship loaded with weapons on the coast of Socotra. Last week, the STC declared a state of emergency and announced a “self-administration rule” in Yemen’s southern regions, including the port city of Aden — which has served as the seat of Hadi’s regime during the Saudi military aggression.
In August 2018, the UAE deployed more than a hundred troops with artillery and armored vehicles to Socotra. A few months later, a UAE official visiting Socotra said the Yemeni island would become part of the UAE and its residents would be given Emirati citizenship.
In 2019, the UAE announced a surprise plan to withdraw part of its troops from Yemen in a major blow to its coalition allies. Both the UAE-sponsored separatists and Saudi-backed Hadi terrorists serve a Riyadh-led military coalition which has been waging a bloody war on Yemeni people since March 2015.