Yemeni government accuses UAE of sending separatist soldiers to remote island

Yemen
Houthi militants stand at the scene of a suicide bombing outside a mosque in Sanaa March 20, 2015. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Yemen’s government has accused the United Arab Emirates of landing more than 100 separatist soldiers on a remote Arabian Sea island this week, deepening a dispute between allies in the Yemen war.

The UAE denied the allegations.

The United Arab Emirates is one of the Arab countries that is officially fighting in support of the internationally recognized government of Yemen against the Houthi-allied movement that controls the capital.

But the UAE has been in a tense relationship with the government and has recruited thousands of fighters from a separatist southern movement clashed with government forces.

Yemeni officials said about 100 separatist fighters dressed in civilian clothes took off on Monday from an Emirati ship on Socotra, the main island of the low-lying Yemenite archipelago of the Arabian Sea.

The island is part of Yemen but is closer to the African coast than to the Yemeni territory. It is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites and is protected by FAO because of its unique plants and animals.

This is not the first time that the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, based in the southern port city of Aden, complains of the movements of the UAE forces on Socotra.

The government accused the UAE last year of controlling the island when tanks and troops were dropped there. Saudi Arabia, which is leading the pro-Hadi Arab alliance, was forced to send troops to Socotra to defuse a confrontation between the UAE and Hadi forces.

Two Yemeni government sources said on Wednesday that the UAE trained in Aden last week a batch of 300 soldiers to send them to Socotra, and sent more than 100 of them to the island on Monday.

In response to reports of the movement of southern separatists to Socotra, Yemen’s interior minister last week criticized the UAE and said it had to focus on fighting the Houthis.

“Our partnership in the war against the Houthis is not a partnership in managing liberated areas,” Minister Ahmed al-Misri said in remarks broadcast by Yemeni television channels.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in a tweet on Twitter: “From the false news I saw today.” He gave no further details.

The UAE had previously denied Yemeni accusations that it was seeking to control the island.

The separatists say they have more than 50,000 fighters armed and trained by the UAE and are aiming to restore the independent southern state of Yemen, which united with northern Yemen in 1990 at the end of a long war.

Clashes between Hadi’s forces and southern separatists are relatively rare, but Hadi forces said in a statement that troops on both sides clashed on Wednesday in the southwest province of Dali to control government buildings.

The statement added that the Hadi forces left Dhala after the clashes, but the southern forces were ambushed again on the road to Aden and that many were killed and wounded. She gave no further details.

The UAE is at odds with Hadi because of its alliance with the Islamic Reform Party, which it considers to be affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is classified as a terrorist organization.

This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.

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