Tensions have heightened between the Yemeni government and the UAE after Abu Dhabi deployed some 300 soldiers, along with tanks and artillery, to Socotra over the past few days. The island, located in the Gulf of Aden and sometimes referred to as the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean, is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
According to a senior Yemeni official, the UAE deployed troops in Socotra without informing the government-in-exile of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
"The government had no idea whatsoever," the official said on Saturday, as reported by AFP.
Emirati Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash on Friday took to Twitter to highlight historic ties between the UAE and Socotra.
"We have historic and family links with the residents of Socotra and we will back them during Yemen's ordeal which was sparked by the Houthis," he said.
According to the official, the Yemeni government-in-exile is considering sending a letter to the United Nations "demanding the dismissal of the Emiratis from the Yemeni intervention."
Tensions have flared over the deployment which was mounted during a visit of a Saudi delegation to the strategic Yemeni island originally aimed at mediating between the two sides. The UAE deployed additional forces while the committee was on the ground, the official said.
In Socotra, residents and activists said that the UAE is building a factory and a prison, recruiting the island's residents, and creating a new militia, as well as buying land and clearing it for construction.
The islanders have reportedly protested the UAE presence in Socotra, arguing that there are no Houthis on the island to justify such a deployment.