UAE Expands Military Footprint in Yemen and Somalia

Seizing Socotra is part of UAE's effort to gain control over region

Years of heavy investment in military force has given the United Arab Emirates a lot of power for a very tiny country. Increasingly, the UAE is sending that military force abroad, looking to become a regional power.

UAE forces on Socotra

The UAE has been working to establish a present in Somalia for awhile. More recently, the focus has been on southern Yemen, where the UAE has been backing separatist groups seizing territory from pro-Saudi forces.

Last week brought the UAE’s ambitions to a new level, when they sent military planes to the Yemeni island of Socotra, effectively occupying it and expelling all Yemeni officials. The UAE insists this is being done purely for “stability” reasons.

Yet there was no sign of any stability threats to Socotra. If anything, this fits more into the UAE’s ambitions of being a dominant power in the along the Horn of Africa, with control over broad areas of the key waterways therein.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of