The weapons and an armored vehicle arrived to Socotra's port aboard Emirati ships
Socotra port erupts in gunfire after UAE-backed forces caught smuggling weapons onto the island
Violent clashes broke out in the port of Yemen’s Socotra Island on Wednesday between the internationally recognized government’s security forces and armed groups loyal to the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC).
Pro-STC gunmen stormed the port in vehicles belonging to the UAE representative in Socotra, Khalfan Al-Mazroui, in an attempt to offload weapons and equipment that had arrived aboard the Emirati ship "Ed Ester," an official in Socotra’s security department said.
Clashes broke out after the arrival of government security forces led by Col. Faez Al-Shatthi, director-general of the Socotra police. The government forces arrested two of the UAE-backed gunmen and are pursuing those who fled, the official said.
The raid came a day after government security forces seized an Emirati armored vehicle equipped with a weapons platform aboard an Emirati ship.
A security official at the port said the container in which they found the armored vehicle was sealed with a poster belonging to UAE-based Prime Fish Company. In addition to owning that fishing company, the Emirati representative, Al-Mazroui, distributes aid to Socotra through the UAE Red Crescent and allegedly carries out the Emirates’ broader agenda on the island. He has purchased land on the island and supported pro-STC rebellions against local authorities and President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s government.
In mid-2019, pro-STC gunmen attacked the port while the UAE was trying to unload weapons from one of its ships.
From time to time, UAE allies on the island carry out popular protests and support the armed rebellion.
The UAE has recruited and trained hundreds of Socotra’s residents to the Security Belt Forces, an elite paramilitary wing under the STC, bought the loyalties of the island's tribal elders and urged them to oppose the leadership of the local authorities