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Residents of Yemen’s Socotra Island protest UAE troop deployment

Residents of Yemen’s strategic Socotra Island have staged a protest to vent their outrage at the United Arab Arab Emirates for deploying military forces there.

According to reports, the demonstrators took to the streets of the Socotra town of Hadibu on Monday, denouncing the UAE meddling in their domestic affairs.

Earlier this month, the UAE deployed some 300 soldiers, along with tanks and artillery, to Socotra amid widening divisions with the Riyadh-sponsored forces supporting the former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are key members of a coalition that has been waging a deadly war on Yemen since March 2015 in support of Hadi and against the Ansarullah movement.

Hadibu residents condemned the deployment of Emirati troops to Socotra, with Abdullah bin Issa al-Aafra, of the al-Mahra Province and Socotra People’s General Council, describing the build-up as illegal.

“These forces are present in Socotra and al-Mahra in numbers that can’t be understood,” he said. “There are illegitimate troops in these areas. Are there forces that belong to the Houthis to be fought by the coalition here? The answer is a big ‘no.’”

Socotra, home to some 60,000 people, sits at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden. Shipping traffic passes by the island on the way to the Bab al-Mandab Strait and Suez Canal.

The island has a unique ecosystem and has been listed by UNESCO as a world natural heritage site.