The Arabic-language September 26 news website, which is affiliated with the Yemeni Defense Ministry, reported that an Emirati ship laden with heavy military equipment and munitions has recently anchored off the coast of Abd al-Kuri island, which is part of the Socotra Archipelago and lies about 105 kilometers (65 miles) southwest of the island of Socotra.
The website, citing local sources requesting anonymity, added that Israeli experts are being airlifted on a daily basis to the island aboard military helicopters.
Abd al-Kuri is among the most important islands near the Horn of Africa, and has great economic and oil resources. There is a dispute between Yemen and the Somali government over the island’s sovereignty.
On September 15, Yemen News Agency, citing local sources, reported that the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates had signed a contract to create an intelligence center for the Israeli Air Force at Socotra Airport.
Home to some 60,000 people, Socotra overlooks the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a main shipping route that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. It has a unique ecosystem.
Back in August last year, the French-language news outlet JForum reported that Israel, in cooperation with the UAE, was planning to build intelligence-gathering bases on the Socotra island.
The purpose of the bases, according to the report, is to electronically monitor Saudi-led forces waging a war on Yemen.
Israel and the UAE are currently making all logistical preparations to establish intelligence bases to collect information from across the Gulf of Eden, including Bab el-Mandeb and south of Yemen, which is under the control of forces backed by the UAE, the report said.
Socotra has been a source of tension between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which have been vying for control of the resource-rich island.
Back in June 2020, UAE-backed separatists of the so-called Southern Transitional Council (STC) took control of Socotra in a move described by the administration of fugitive former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, as “a full-fledged coup.”