DAMASCUS, SYRIA (03:15 PM) – Sources within the Ansarullah party of Yemen (also known as the Houthi movement) and the Yemeni Armed Forces have warned the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that Yemen will not stand idly by and allow further takeover of the island of Socotra, in the Arabian Sea. A spokesman for the Missile Forces said that they were “carefully examining” the possibility of a medium or long-range missile strike on an Emirati military base on the occupied island.
Socotra is an island south of the Yemeni mainland, in the Arabian Sea, and is known for its unique and mostly untouched biosphere. While officially a governorate of Yemen, around 70% of the island is recognised as UNESCO World Heritage, and as such is off-limits for most human activity.
However, according to local media reported by Al-Jazeera, ousted former Yemeni president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi leased both the island of Socotra and nearby Abd al-Kuri island to the UAE for a duration of 99 years in 2014.
Ever since, the UAE has reportedly sunk over 1.6 billion USD into “development” of the island, which included massive expansion of the port city of Zaed and the construction of tourist attractions within the natural reservations. Moreover, the Emiratis have constructed a military airbase from which they conduct bombing runs and refuel warplanes participating in the war against Yemen.
“Very large [swathes of] land have been occupied by the Emiratis. This is a violation of the laws of the state, the protectorates and the protection of the coast,” an anonymous official within the Socotra Environment Agency reported.
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Moreover, reports have reached Yemen about a possible UAE plan to hold a referendum in Socotra, “offering” the island the option of joining the United Arab Emirates as its 8th member state. Such an annexation would however be a violation of international law, and the news has been met with outrage across Yemen.
Sources within the Yemeni Missile Forces have reacted by stating that Sana’a is considering a direct military strike against the UAE colonists in the UAE airbase on Socotra. The source also urged all UAE families of soldiers in the military base to return to the UAE as some as possible.
The Yemeni military also reminded the Emiratis of what happened to the UAE troops in Ma’rib in September 2015, when a Yemen ballistic missile strike hit a military base and struck an arms depot containing and Apache helicopter pod, resulting in the death of more than 54 UAE troopers and high-ranking officers.
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