The United Arab Emirates (UAE) says it sent military recruits for training on Yemen’s Socorta Island where its troops have been stationed.
UAE’s state-run WAM news agency on Monday night described the training on Socotra Island as “intensive,” saying it included battle skills, weapons training and first aid.
UAE forces and aid organizations have been on Socotra Island, which sits near the mouth of the Gulf of Aden, since a deadly cyclone struck in November 2015. It represents a crucial chokepoint and has seen recent attacks from Somali pirates.
Emirati forces have military outposts in several areas in Yemen as part of an ongoing campaign by the UN-recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to neutralize a rebellion by Houthi militias allied with loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The UAE, while hosting some 5,000 American troops, increasingly is flexing its own military muscle in the region by opening bases abroad.
Since the UAE soldiers stepped onto the land of Yemen, the Arab Gulf country did not stop all the time trying to establish its influence in a country which has been suffering from a fierce war for nearly two years.
The United Arab Emirates has used numerous ways to establish its influence in Yemen:
First, this was through supporting specific groups such as the’ Southern Movement’ in southern provinces, which seek to restore the memory of the past (Separatists who have always sought the secession of ‘South Yemen’).
Second, the UAE intensified its military presence in Yemen, either through soldiers or through munition and weapons it used to supply to the fighters on the ground.
Humanitarian aid was the third way the UAE used to extend its influence in Yemen, especially in the southern regions that have been liberated from the control of the Houthi militias and the forces of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Perhaps the latest way to extend its influence in Yemen, the UAE sought to control some Yemeni islands, which was rejected by the Yemeni president.
UAE’s relations with former president’s son
The UAE is host to Mr Saleh’s son, Ahmed, who has served as Yemeni ambassador to the UAE. When the Emiratis were attempting to broker a peace deal to end the Yemeni conflict, they used the younger Mr Saleh as a go-between with his father. The UAE has not welcomed news that the Saudis are now focused on reaching agreement with their apparent enemies, the Houthis, at the expense of the former president.
Dispute between Hadi and Emirati officials
The dispute between the Yemeni President ‘Hadi’ and UAE officials appears to have started over argument about who controls Aden airport. However, the crisis between Hadi and the UAE deepened when the latter demanded to have an influence on some Yemeni islands which Hadi refused considering it a violation of Yemen’s sovereignty. The Yemeni President then returned to the Saudi capital Riyadh to discuss the recent developments of the security situation in Aden, in light of his attempt to impose the state authority over the city considering it temporarily as the capital of the country, which is opposed by some security leaders that are funded by the UAE.