Saudi Forces Arrive on Socotra as Yemen Slams UAE ‘Colonization’ of Island

UAE claims they have 'historic ties' to the island

Saudi Arabia has announced Sunday that they are deploying troops to the Yemeni island of Socotra. Officials say the troops are part of “joint training exercises” on the island alongside their Yemeni allies and troops from the United Arab Emirates.

UAE forces on Socotra

This suggests the Saudis are trying to calm mounting tensions between the Yemeni government and the UAE, which occupied Socotra militarily recently, expelling the Yemeni officials. Yemen has subsequently accused the UAE of trying to “colonize” Socotra.

The UAE has tried to downplay complaints about their takeover, saying they only sent troops there for “stability” purposes. At the same time, their foreign ministry cites “historic ties” to the island as part of the justification of the operation.

Socotra has largely been irrelevant to the Saudi invasion, to the point that islanders have at times complained of being “forgotten.” The UAE has in recent years sent aid to the island, apparently trying to ingratiate itself to the population. The pro-Saudi government, however, appears very concerned by the UAE’s bid to take over the island, which comes amid further UAE efforts to take strategic points around the country.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of