Saudi Arabia recently opened a camp on the strategic Yemeni island of Socotra, which received regular reinforcements from the Saudi Air Force.
According to sources, reported by the intelligence website Intelligence Online, a “C130 Hercules” cargo plane was seen on the tarmac of the airport in Hadibo, the capital of Socotra, on 19 October.
Last June, Riyadh announced the withdrawal of its forces from Socotra, while allowing the separatist “Southern Transitional Council”, sponsored by the UAE, to take over the administration of the island.
But the Saudi government changed its position when the UAE strengthened its presence on the island in the wake of the normalization of its relations with “Israel”, according to “Intelligence Online.”
Besides its military presence, the Kingdom also maintained a footing in Socotra through the “Saudi Program for the Development and Reconstruction of Yemen”, which was established in 2018 at the initiative of King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
Within these programs, new schools were opened on the island on October 23, and work is underway on a number of water infrastructure projects.
However, these initiatives may not be sufficient to counter the growing influence of the UAE. Its “Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation” provides basic necessities to the island’s residents, which include oil.
Last September, the “Intelligence Online” website revealed that the UAE and “Israel” are keen on a permanent presence in Socotra, and have already begun procedures to establish intelligence and military bases there.
The website quoted sources as saying that after a visit on August 28, Emirati and Israeli officials paid a second visit to Socotra on September 10. This indicates the extent of the two parties’ keenness to establish intelligence bases on this strategic island. The bases will be in the regions of “Zafel East” and “Qattinan”, to the west of the island.
The sources added “the” Southern Transitional Council “, which took control of Socotra on June 20, was asked to facilitate visits and preparatory work for the military bases.
The site revealed that the Emirati and Israeli delegations “entered the country without any checks on the borders on the island, despite the fact that a section of the Southern Transitional Council was openly hostile to the arrival of Israeli officers.”