The Warsan

UAE builds new airstrip in occupied Socotra

Yemen’s Socotra Archipelago has, in recent years, been subject to a joint Emirati–Israeli occupation


MAR 28, 2024


Satellite imagery has revealed what appears to be a new UAE airstrip being constructed on the Yemeni island of Abd al-Kuri.

The island is part of the Socotra Archipelago, which has been subjected to an Emirati military and intelligence expansion in recent years.

Satellite images obtained by AP show the phrase “I LOVE UAE” spelled out in the dirt near the new airstrip site.

The imagery obtained on 26 March shows increased work is being carried out on the Abd al-Kuri Island. Images from earlier in March, which showed trucks grading the airstrip, also confirmed this.

The UAE has repeatedly denied its military and intelligence presence on the Socotra Archipelago – which includes the island of Socotra, which has been revealed to be the site of a joint Emirati–Israeli occupation.

“Any presence of the UAE on Socotra Island is based on humanitarian grounds that is carried out in cooperation with the Yemeni government and local authorities. The UAE remains steadfast in its commitment to all international endeavors aimed at facilitating the resumption of the Yemeni political process, thereby advancing the security, stability, and prosperity sought by the Yemeni populace,” the UAE said in response to questions from AP.

In February last year, the Ansarallah resistance movement released a statement condemning the UAE’s eviction of residents from Abd al-Kuri, the Socotra archipelago’s second-largest island. The resistance movement accused Abu Dhabi of carrying out a long-planned operation to transform the archipelago, which includes Abd al-Kuri, into an Israeli-Emirati military and intelligence hub.

An in-depth investigation released by The Cradle in March 2023 details the Emirati–Israeli presence on the Socotra archipelago.

Expansion of the Emirati presence on the Abd al-Kuri comes as Ansarallah and the Armed Forces of Yemen’s Sanaa government – which are militarily aligned with one another – have stepped up their naval operations against vessels linked to or bound for Israel as part of a campaign launched in solidarity with the people of Gaza at the start of the war.

Since January, Yemen’s naval forces have also been targeting US and British vessels in response to London and Washington’s brutal aerial campaign launched against the country that month, which aimed to deter Sanaa’s campaign against Israeli interests in the Red and Arab seas.

As Washington continues its unsuccessful attempts to deter Sanaa, reports have emerged that the US plans to establish a presence on Socotra.

The US Department of Defense (DOD) denied on 26 March a report from Sky News Arabia released last week that Washington was sending troops and missile defense batteries to Socotra Island.

A Pentagon spokesperson told Responsible Statecraft that there is no US presence on Socotra Island or anywhere else in Yemen, contradicting the confirmations made by President Joe Biden in 2022.

The Cradle

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