Hundreds protested on Yemen's remote island of Socotra in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia, demanding the United Arab Emirates (UAE) withdraw from the island and from the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels. Footage circulated on social media showed crowds waving Yemeni flags and chanting anti-Emirati slogans.
Yemeni security officials speaking on the condition of anonymity said yesterday’s protests erupted in response to a sit-in staged by separatists loyal to the UAE at Socotra government headquarters.
The UAE is a major partner in a Saudi-led military campaign that is supporting Yemen’s internationally recognized government against Iran-allied Houthi rebels, who are in control of the capital Sanaa. But ties between the Yemeni government and the UAE have soured recently, as the UAE has been accused of also supporting separatists in Yemen. The anti-Houthi coalition has fractured over the past months, as violence erupted in Yemen's south between the Saudi-backed government and the UAE-backed separatists.
The Yemeni island of Socotra continues to be a source of tension between Saudi Arabia and its biggest partner in the Yemen war, the UAE. In May 2018, the UAE, a pillar of the Saudi-led coalition, faced anger for deploying troops to the Yemeni island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea. In defiance of the UAE's move on the island, Saudi Arabia deployed troops to Yemen's Socotra as a confidence-building measure over complaints by Yemen's government that the UAE deployed troops there without its permission, revealing the growing rivalry between the two allies.