By Middle East Monitor
Amid allegations of UAE-backed foreign mercenaries arriving on the Yemeni island of Socotra, it was reported yesterday that the island’s main airport has temporarily suspended flights from UAE’s Emirates Airline for three days.
According to the Socotra Post, local intelligence suggests the UAE intends to deploy additional mercenaries from the Eritrean port city of Asseb in addition to militia stationed in the southern mainland.
It has been speculated that the UAE hopes to expand its trading routes by occupying the strategically located archipelago where a military base has already been established. The UAE has previously set up similar bases in the Horn of Africa, of which Eritrea is part.
Soqotri residents have held regular demonstrations against a perceived occupation by the Emiratis.
The Socotra Post reported other sources saying that the UAE previously smuggled arms onto the island by using sites used to store humanitarian aid and commercial goods belonging to the UAE branch of the Red Crescent and the Khalifah Foundation.
The Socotra islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Centre protected and recognised by the UN body for their unique flora and fauna.