The Saudi military coalition in Yemen said on Wednesday that it had established a presence on a strategic island at the entrance to the Red Sea to counter perceived threats to maritime trade from the Iran-adapted Houthi movement, according to a report on the mysterious base. of no nation.
The statement was issued in response to a report by the Associated Press (AP) referring to Yemeni officials who said the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was behind an air base that has appeared on the island of Perim, also known as Mayun, in the vital Bab al-Mandab. the sound. .
The AP said it received satellite images showing a 1.85km runway at Perim along with three hangars. “All equipment currently on Mayun Island is under the control of the coalition command and is located there to counter the Houthi militia, secure maritime navigation and support the West Coast forces,” a statement to Saudi Arabia’s news agency SPA said, referring to an unnamed coalition official. .
The official dismissed “unfounded” reports that Emirati forces were present on the islands of Perim and Socotra, saying that the current UAE efforts were focused on providing air support to coalition operations in mainland Marib, which Houthi forces are trying to take. UAE authorities have not commented on the AP report.
The Gulf state withdrew most of its forces from Yemen in 2019 but maintains influence through southern warriors such as the armed and trained. Perim, a lump of volcanic rock that provides a foothold on major trade routes, was captured by the coalition in 2015 after intervening in Yemen against the Houthis, who fired the internationally recognized government from the capital Sanaa.
The Bab al-Mandab Strait, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea, is only 20 km (12 miles) wide, making hundreds of ships potentially an easy target.
The Yemen conflict is seen in the region as a proxy war between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Saudi coalition accuses Iran of supplying the Houthis with its arsenal of drones and missiles, a claim both denied. The war has been in a military standstill for several years with the Houthis having most of the major urban areas.