Saudi troops replace UAE forces on Yemen's Socotra: Report
The United Arab Emirates has reportedly withdrawn most of its troops from Yemen’s Socotra island under a deal and let Saudi forces take over the oasis of breath-taking beauty, a Turkish news agency reports.
The UAE forces left the island on Thursday under the agreement between Abu Dhabi and Saudi-backed former Yemeni government, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said.
The deal was reached following the mediation of Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed al-Jaber, it added.
Supporters of Saudi-backed former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and the UAE, a key part of the Saudi-led coalition in war on Yemen, were locked in a dispute over the Emirati troop deployment to Socotra earlier this month.
Hadi loyalists have accused the UAE of abandoning an initial cause to fight Yemen’s Houthi fighters, saying Emirati forces were instead providing support to those seeking a separation of southern Yemen territories from the north.
Saudi forces will now be replacing the Emiratis under the Friday’s agreement. Riyadh also promised what it called security training for the locals following the departure of the Emirati forces.
Last week, Saudi authorities confirmed that the country had deployed troops to Socotra amid anger over the UAE’s military build-up on the island as rivalry grew between the two allies.
Turki al-Malki, spokesman for the Saudi operations in Yemen, said on Sunday that Saudi forces had landed on Socotra on a mission to train and support loyalists to Hadi.
Socotra, home to some 60,000 people, sits at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden. The island has a unique ecosystem and been listed by UNESCO as a world natural heritage site.
Reports have said the UAE sought to exploit the natural resources of the island and turn the place into a permanent military outpost-cum-holiday resort.