ADEN, Yemen, (Xinhua) — Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher announced on Monday that the dispute between his government and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over Socotra island was resolved peacefully.
“The crisis on the island of Socotra is over and the Yemeni flag is flying above our sea and airports again,” Dagher said in a brief press statement obtained by Xinhua.
Hours after the announcement, the prime minister left the island, returned to Aden’s airport and then immediately headed toward Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh, according to local sources.
He might hold a meeting with Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Riyadh on the latest developments in Yemen’s Socotra island and elsewhere.
On Sunday, a commission of high-ranking officials from Saudi Arabia arrived in Socotra to mediate between the Yemeni government and the UAE.
A source told Xinhua that the Saudi mediating commission succeeded in “ceasing the aggravating tension between the UAE and the government after signing an agreement.”
According to the agreement, “newly-recruited Yemeni troops will be in charge of protecting the key government facilities in Socotra including the airport.”
Both the Saudi and UAE forces deployed in Socotra agreed to withdraw after the agreement, the source said on condition of anonymity.
Last week, hundreds of people staged a large demonstration in Socotra island and declared full support for the Saudi-backed Yemeni government.
“The Yemeni people will not give up any of their sovereign territories, including the strategic island of Socotra,” the Yemeni government said in an official statement last week.
In response, the UAE Foreign Ministry said the military presence in all liberated Yemeni governorates, including Socotra, fits within the efforts by the Arab coalition to support “legitimacy at this critical stage in the history of Yemen.”
The ministry emphasized that the UAE has “no ambitions” in Yemen or any part of it, and its steps in many Yemeni governorates come within the context of supporting Yemen’s security and stability, as well as helping legitimacy and Yemeni people.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Socotra island is a Yemeni archipelago on the Indian Ocean, which has unique nature, trees, water springs and a strategic location.
The UAE is part of a Saudi-led Arab coalition that has been fighting the Shiite Houthi rebels since March 2015 to support the internationally-recognized government led by President Hadi.