UAE presence in Yemen's Socotra 'occupation': Minister
UAE is part of Saudi-led coalition that launched a massive air campaign against Yemeni rebels
A Yemeni minister has described the military presence of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the island of Socotra as an "occupation".
"There is no justification for the presence of UAE forces in Socotra island," Minister of Sanaa Secretariat Abdelghani Jamil said on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
"This means occupation in the sense of the word, a full-fledged occupation," he said.
The minister was speaking in the wake of clashes between UAE-backed Security Belt forces and Yemeni coastguard.
Security Belt forces seized control of Socotra's port for a few hours before being forced out by troop reinforcements dispatched to the island.
The Yemeni minister questioned the motives behind the Emirati military presence, citing that the island has no presence of the Houthi rebel group or Daesh terrorist group.
He called on President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to "take a decisive decision in this regard and clarify the ongoing events for the people and the public opinion."
Notably, a convoy of Yemeni Fisheries Minister Fahd Kafayin and Socotra's Governor Nezar Mahrous was targeted recently in the western part of the island by separatist forces.
The Yemeni government accuses the UAE of backing separatists, who demand independence of southern Yemen.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia and a group of Arab allies -- who accuse the Houthis of serving as an Iranian proxy -- launched a massive military campaign against the rebels, who overran much of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa a year earlier. The UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition.
*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat