Yemen's Houthis say they fired missile at Saudi Aramco centre

Military transport planes from the United Arab Emirates landed on the sleepy Yemeni island of Socotra last week, unloading tanks and troops as part of the Gulf Arab state´s drive to extend its influence over a strategic waterway flanked by war zones.

Under the deal, the two countries' troops will withdraw from Socotra and Yemeni forces will be stationed at the island's airport and port, the agency reported. "The national flag is fluttering again on the seaport and the airport".

Saudi Arabia has played a vital role in mediation to ease tension between Yemen and the UAE over the island.

Bin Daghr "listened to the committee about the implementation of the agreement, which foresees the pullout of the UAE forces from Socotra, the elimination of tension and the mechanism to ensure that the security forces at Socotra airport and port will return to their duties", Saba said.

The UAE has set up prisons and armed groups in the region, causing officials of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government to accuse Emirati troops of behaving like an "occupier".

"Yes, Yemenis are poor but they fight for their sovereignty,"The UAE foreign ministry, in a statement on Socotra, said it backed Yemen´s legitimate government and sought "to establish peace and stability and to support developmental projects for the island´s residents".

The UAE is a major pillar in the Saudi-led coalition.

"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. Yemen has subsequently accused the UAE of trying to "colonize" Socotra.

Socotra has largely been irrelevant to the Saudi invasion, to the point that islanders have at times complained of being "forgotten".

Turki al-Malki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen's Shiite rebels, says Sunday that the Saudi troops are on a training and support mission for Yemeni forces.

Vanessa Coleman

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