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Emirati occupation of Socotra sparks international condemnation

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Leading international organizations and think tanks warned against the continued Emirate occupation of the strategically located island of Socotra.

The International Environment Observatory said in a report that “there is a lot of evidence of the creeping militarization of the World Heritage site by the Emirates.”

It added that the Socotra archipelago is viewed as strategically important, which lies between the Guardavoy Channel and the Arabian Sea, in the middle of the Indian Ocean near the leading international shipping routes.

It stated that new satellite images indicate the possibility of the initial construction of the Emirates airport on Abd al-Kuri (Kalmia), which is part of the Yemeni island of Socotra.

The Environment Observatory believes that the war in Yemen has had military effects on Socotra, the fight for political control, and the conflict on the mainland has undermined environmental governance and exacerbated pressures on its unique biodiversity.

Two months ago, satellite images revealed a new military move by the UAE targeting the Yemeni island of Socotra archipelago as part of Abu Dhabi’s plots to seize the strategically located island.

Satellite images published by the ICAD platform and obtained from the Maxar satellite showed that the UAE began building a new runway on the Yemeni island of Abdul Kuri, parallel to the old runway, which began construction in December 2021.

This comes nearly seven months after the ICAD investigation team exposed the base and built it based on exclusive satellite images shown for the first time in the media.

Construction of the new runway west of the old runway began around the beginning of July 2022, with a thin, paved dirt line emerging. However, the recent image shows the start of completing the construction of the modern runway at the end of July, specifically on July 23, 2022.

The runway is twice as long as the old runway, with a length of 2.7 km, which will help the base, if completed, to receive advanced warplanes and heavy cargo planes.

The ICAD team speculates that the construction of the second runway will facilitate the movement of take-off and landing of more than one aircraft at the same time, or perhaps because the length of the old runway does not meet the capacity that the Emirates wants to be able to receive heavy aircraft that need a longer runway.

Abd al-Kuri Island is part of the Socotra archipelago, which the UAE has controlled in cooperation with the Yemeni Transitional Council since 2018, without coordination with the government of former Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Socotra Island is also part of the UAE’s major project to control the Bab al-Mandab strait, one of the most critical global maritime trade lanes.

Before that, the ICAD investigation platform published a video investigation showing the details of tracking the path of an Emirati military cargo plane that landed in the archipelago of the Yemeni island of Socotra.

The investigation showed that the Emirati cargo plane took off from Al Ain Airport in the UAE on June 26 towards Socotra to transport soldiers and military equipment.

This is part of the UAE’s ongoing plots for years to gain control of the archipelago of the strategically located Socotra Island.

This intersects with the disclosure by the Hebrew media a few days ago that Israel recently deployed military radars in the Emirates and Bahrain, which included the Yemeni archipelago of Socotra, through the gateway to coordination and cooperation with Abu Dhabi.

Israeli Channel 12 reported that Israel installed radars to track Iran’s activities in Arab countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, and the Yemeni island of Socotra, to oversee navigation in the Red Sea, through which 30% of its international trade passes.

The same channel had previously revealed, months ago, about unprecedented Israeli cooperation with the UAE in Socotra, in light of its occupation from Abu Dhabi for years.

Months ago, Yemeni sources revealed a new secret agreement between the UAE and Israel in Socotra, Yemen, as part of Abu Dhabi’s plots to control the archipelago, which has an important strategic location.

Journalist Anis Mansour, head of the Hana Aden Center for Studies, said that the Emirati Khalifa Foundation and the UAE Red Crescent had concluded a contract with the Israeli companies Yossi Abraham and Mifram to expand Hadibo Airport, which the UAE and Israeli security forces use in naval and air intelligence operations.

Mansour considered the Emirati-Israeli annexation of the island of Socotra to be the most important strategic military victory in the region since Israel’s crushing victory over the Arab armies in 1967.

Observers warn that the security of the Arab Gulf is in the grip of Israel from the gate of the UAE, which is escalating its violent alliance with Tel Aviv and aligning with it on regional issues.

Hebrew media revealed that Israel had deployed a radar system in several countries in the Middle East, including the UAE and Bahrain, amid fears that this system would be used for espionage and intelligence purposes.

At the same time, the Hebrew Channel 12 said that the administration of US President Joe Biden is seeking to conclude a security agreement for joint defence between Israel and many Arab countries in the region to confront Iranian threats.

According to the channel’s report, the United States is seeking to conclude a “defence security” cooperation agreement that includes Israel and six Arab countries in the Gulf, in addition to Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, to confront “Iranian threats” in a joint initiative of the Democratic and Republican parties.