Arab and international media reports confirmed that angry criticism in Yemen at the official and popular levels has been rising since the disclosure of new Emirati military activities in the country, despite the UAE’s announcement of the withdrawal of its forces last year.
On May 25, the Associated Press reported that a “mysterious” air base is being built on the Yemeni island of Mayun, located in a strategic area at the Bab al-Mandab International Maritime Strait.
This island, according to the agency, is one of the most important maritime checkpoints for many shipments of energy and commercial goods in the world.
The agency quoted Yemeni government officials, unnamed, as saying that “the UAE is behind the construction of this base, despite its announcement in 2019 of withdrawing its forces from a Saudi-led military campaign to fight the Houthis.” According to a report published by Anatolia Turkish
The agency stated that the construction of the air base represents for the UAE a more strategic dimension beyond the scope of the military conflict in Yemen.
Abu Dhabi has not commented on the Mayon base
There was no official comment from Abu Dhabi regarding what the Associated Press published about the Mayon air base.
Although the UAE officially announced in February 2020, the complete withdrawal of its forces from Yemen, the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia said a few days ago that Abu Dhabi is still working within the coalition forces.
Governmental and parliamentary discontent
Since the disclosure of the construction of the military air base in Mayon, a state of popular and official discontent has escalated in Yemen.
On Monday, Prime Minister Maeen Abdul-Malik said that he directed the relevant authorities to investigate the issue of establishing the base and submit a detailed report, provided that it is submitted to the House of Representatives (the first chamber of parliament).
This came in a letter sent by Abdul-Malik to the Speaker of Parliament, Sultan al-Barakani, in response to a memo he last sent to the government on May 26, asking it to clarify the military base.
In the memorandum obtained by Anatolia, Al-Barakani called on Abdul-Malik to respond in writing within a week to questions submitted by members of Parliament about the UAE’s establishment of this base without the knowledge of the state.
In early June, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Abdul Aziz Jabari tweeted, “The UAE’s silence about what is happening on Mayon Island is a neglect of Yemen’s sovereignty,” and added, addressing the government: “Whoever neglects the sovereignty of his country will lose his legitimacy.”
Yemeni officials have previously accused the UAE of seeking to divide Yemen and control its south, through the forces of the Southern Transitional Council (backed by the UAE), to control the wealth of the south and extend its influence over its vital ports and islands. Abu Dhabi usually denies the validity of these repeated accusations.
The Houthis: Emirati occupation
In the words of Hisham Sharaf, Minister of Foreign Affairs in its not internationally recognized government, the Houthi group said on June 2, that “the Emirati occupation forces are carrying out illegal practices and desperate attempts to impose a fait accompli on a number of Yemeni islands and territories.”
He stressed that “what the UAE authorities are currently doing in the Socotra archipelago and on Mayon Island is something that cannot be tolerated, and is contrary to international law,” according to the Houthis’ “Saba” news agency.
Sharaf warned Abu Dhabi that “the lava of fire could soon reach them as a result of their arrogance, if they continued their childish behavior and did not leave the lands of Yemen and the islands where they were playing with fire.”
Which observers considered an implicit threat from the Houthis to launch attacks on the UAE via drones and ballistic missiles, as is happening with Saudi Arabia.
Emirati silence and suspension from the coalition
Abu Dhabi has been silent since the Associated Press published its report on the UAE building a military air base on Mayon Island.
However, on June 3, the official Saudi Press Agency quoted an official source in the Arab Coalition (an unnamed one) as saying that “there is no truth to the news about the presence of UAE forces on the islands of Socotra and Mayun.”
The source added that “the (unspecified) equipment in Mayon is under the control of the coalition leadership, and serves to empower the Yemeni government forces, secure maritime navigation, and support the (governmental) West Coast forces.”
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In exchange for a repeated official Emirati announcement of withdrawal from Yemen, the source said that “the current Emirati effort (he did not mention its nature) is focused with the coalition forces in confronting the Houthi militias by air in defense of Marib (in the center of the country).”
He stressed that “respect for Yemen’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are among the firm principles and basic constants of the coalition.”
These developments prompted Yemeni government officials and experts to accuse the coalition led by the neighboring Saudi Arabia of deviating from its goals, calling for correcting the relationship between the coalition and the legitimate government.
Anadolu Agency quoted the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Information, Muhammad Qayzan, as saying that “the local reports of the competent authorities confirm the existence of suspicious activities of the UAE on Mayon Island.”
Kaizan added, “These actions affect Yemeni sovereignty and contradict the UAE’s claims that it has officially withdrew from Yemen.”
He continued, “The statement of the (Arab) Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen confirmed the existence of developments on the island, while the Republic of Yemen confirmed more than once that it had not signed any agreement to establish military bases with any foreign country on Yemeni territory.”
He said, “No Yemeni party has the right to give up an inch of the national territory, because this issue is sovereign.”
Qaizan stressed that “whatever the justifications for the existence of construction works or technical, engineering or military developments on the islands of Socotra or Mayon to confront the Houthi enemy, this is unacceptable, as it affects Yemeni sovereignty, and no Yemeni will accept it.”
Kaizan called on all Yemenis, with their different affiliations, segments and regions, to raise their voices loudly about the necessity of correcting the relationship between legitimacy and the coalition, and that it be based on mutual respect, sovereignty, unity and stability of Yemen.
Sharing the gains of the war
Ali al-Dhahab, a researcher in military and strategic affairs, considered that “the construction of the military base in Mayon falls within the framework of sharing the gains of the war in Yemen.”
Al-Dhahab believed, according to what Anatolia reported, that “the entire legitimate Yemeni authority has paid the price, so no international or regional party can interfere in a case without being paid.”
He added, “The Yemeni government views what is happening in Mayon as being more related to an Arab nationalist dimension (in the face of Iran) and not to a Yemeni dimension, and therefore it does not raise the matter as it did in Socotra.”
He expressed his belief that “what is happening in Mayon is part of the concessions the government is making to obtain political gains to strengthen its position with the Houthis, given that the Iranian threat remains the prominent danger to all.”
He added that “Saudi Arabia paid a lot in the Yemeni war, as well as the UAE, and this simply means that there will be a return for this payment, and this return will be a strategic servant of the national agenda of the coalition countries, in particular Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
Al-Dhahab considered that “the presence of the UAE in the military base (in Mayon) complements its presence in the Horn of Africa (the countries in the east of the continent), and supports its interests and the interests of its active international partners Britain, the United States and France, as well as serves the interests of Saudi Arabia and its national security, especially from the Iranian threats, which are increasing every day. visible in the Red Sea.
On the strategic importance of the island, Al-Dahab said, “Mayon is a strategic island and an influential figure in maritime security in the Red Sea.”
Regarding Riyadh’s relations with Abu Dhabi, he saw that “the strategic alliance still exists between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with minor differences over the sharing of influence shares on the Yemeni coasts and islands.”
The ongoing war in Yemen has killed more than 233,000 Prime Time Zone, and 80 percent of the population of about 30 million Prime Time Zone has become dependent on aid, in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the United Nations.
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