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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: role on Socotra Island in line with stabilising efforts as part of Arab coalition in Yemen

YEMEN - NOVEMBER 09: Socotra Dragon Trees or Dragon Blood Trees (Dracaena cinnabari), Asparagaceae, Haggier Mountains, Socotra Island (Unesco World Heritage Site, 2008), Yemen. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
YEMEN - NOVEMBER 09: Socotra Dragon Trees or Dragon Blood Trees (Dracaena cinnabari), Asparagaceae, Haggier Mountains, Socotra Island (Unesco World Heritage Site, 2008), Yemen. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

The UAE said its role on Socotra is as an active member of the Arab coalition to restore Yemen's internationally recognised government and that attempts to distort its actions on the island are part of Muslim Brotherhood-led smear campaigns to undermine the fight against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign affairs on Sunday night addressed recent criticisms issued on the official social media accounts of Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, which the UAE said escalated the situation beyond "reality and logic", Wam reported.

The Ministry expressed its surprise at the Prime Minister's statement and said that such tensions distracted from the shared goal to counter the Houthi rebel threat.

The UAE has deployed soldiers to Socotra, which is a Unesco World Heritage site, as part of a campaign to support its residents but the move has been criticised, with the Emirates accused by some Yemeni officials of over-stepping its UN-backed mandate as part of the Coalition, according to media reports.

The island has been largely neglected by Yemeni authorities since the start of the war against the Houthi rebels, who seized the capital Sanaa in 2014, and the UAE has been offering support to the island's residents, including offering them trips to the Emirates to receive medical treatment. It has been buying land in order to build a factory, prison and other facilities.

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On Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted the role being played in Yemen by the Muslim Brotherhood - and its supporters - which has been designated as a terror group by both the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The ministry emphasised that the UAE has no ambitions in Yemen beyond supporting its security, stability and ensuring the legitimacy of its people, and that any suggestion that the situation was otherwise is part of repeated attempts to undermine its "monumental efforts" in the country, Wam reported.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash said on Twitter on Friday that the UAE has historic and family ties to the island in the Arabian Gulf. "We will support [Socotra's residents], in stability, health care, education, and living [conditions]," he said.

When a powerful cyclone struck Socotra in November 2015, killing three people and injuring about 100, the UAE provided rescue and aid efforts.

The Saudi-led coalition has been in Yemen since 2015 as part of UN-backed efforts to restore the internationally recognised government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.