A Soviet-era tank rusts on the coast of the Yemeni island of Socotra. (Photo credit: AFP)
Yemeni media reported on 2 September that a delegation of Israeli military experts has been deployed to the UAE-controlled Yemeni island of Socotra, located in the Gulf of Aden.
According to the report, the Israeli team has been on the island for the past few days, and is accompanied by several Emirati intelligence officers.
The report adds that the delegation, who belong to Tel Aviv’s navy, have been carrying out search operations and excavations across Socotra Island.
The island, inhabited by around 60,000 people, overlooks the Strait of Bab Al-Mandab, a major shipping corridor that links the Red Sea to both the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Over the past year, Israel has reportedly been working with its Gulf partner to establish a presence on Socotra.
According to a Yemeni media report from March, the UAE is involved in the development of a construction project to build facilities on the island for the purpose of hosting Israeli soldiers, officers, and other military experts and personnel.
This is allegedly part of a plan to turn the Yemeni island into a center for regional espionage, as well as to increase military control over maritime routes.
Last year, Israel signed an agreement with the UAE, allowing it to establish an intelligence center at the island’s Hadibu Airport.
Israel is also interested in the strategic Yemeni island because it serves as a potential flashpoint for a confrontation with Iran. In 2020, the Washington Institute published an analysis examining how Israeli submarines could potentially strike the Islamic Republic from positions near Yemen.
In January of this year, Socotra Island made headlines due to controversial photos of Israeli tourists who had visited the island under a UAE-issued visa.
تحت حماية الإمارات، سياح إسرائيليون يتجولون في جزيرة سقطرى اليمنية ويستفزون اليمنيين بحمل العلم الإسرائيلي pic.twitter.com/TIclbIzVPK
— مجلة ميم (@MeemMagazine) January 12, 2022
In June of 2020, the UAE established control of the island by bribing its tribal authorities.
Former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi described the UAE’s takeover of the island as “a full-fledged coup,” however.
Since the start of the war on Yemen in 2015, the UAE has been an integral part of the Saudi-led coalition, backing mercenary groups across the country and taking part in indiscriminate bombing campaigns.
The Saudi-led coalition, which continues to violate the UN-brokered ceasefire agreement, receives logistical and military support from the US, the UK, France, and most notably Israel.