Friday, May 11, 2018

What is Going On Around Saudi Arabia?

What is the United Arab Emirates doing at the southern outlet of the Red Sea?

Yemen's formal alliance with the UAE may be coming to an end after the latter deployed forces to a Yemeni island, without prior consultation with Yemen's exiled government, a senior Yemeni official said Saturday.

Over the past few days, the UAE has deployed some 300 soldiers, along with tanks and artillery, to the island of Socotra, which is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, heightening tensions between the two allies.

"The government had no idea whatsoever," the official said.

There was a time in the Cold War when the USSR had a naval base at Socotra.

This comes on the heels of other news from the region involving the UAE. The UAE is building a base in Berbera, Somalia; while apparently abandoning construction on Mayyun (Perim/Barim) island in the southern outlet Bab al-Mandab Strait.

Is the UAE making sure it has stepping stones to operate in Yemen; or is the UAE trying to make sure it can deploy forces both in the Strait of Hormuz where oil flows and at the Red Sea where alternate oil routes across Saudi Arabia bypass the Hormuz chokepoint?

And if so, why?

Is this related to Turkish bases in Qatar, Sudan, and Somalia? Is this a contest between the Turks and the Saudi-led Gulf coalition? Although if Egypt remains aligned with the Saudis, the Turks aren't making it through the Suez Canal at the northern Red Sea outlet.

UPDATE: More on the UAE moves in the region.

UPDATE: The Saudis sent troops to Socotra, too.

UPDATE: Related UAE news regarding Eritrea from two years ago and other developments. And a note from a late 2016 data dump:

It is interesting that the UAE has based jets in Eritrea across from Yemen to support the Sunnis there against Iran-backed Shias. It wasn't so long ago that Iran seemed to be cultivating ties with Eritrea to have a presence on the Red Sea.

Interesting that this has been going on for a while.