UAE Builds Secret Air Base on Yemen’s Mayon Island

The UAE is continuing to building a secret air base on the strategic Mayon Island in Yemen, according to the US Associated Press (AP)’s report.

The agency quoted officials in the Saudi-backed exiled Hadi government affirmed the UAE is standing behind the construction of the air base on the volcanic Mayon Island in the Bab al-Mandab strait, although it announced in 2019 the withdrawal of its forces from the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

Jeremy Binnie, Middle East editor at the “Janes” intelligence company, which has been following construction work on Mayon Island for years, said that building the base means that there is a “long-term strategic goal to establish a permanent presence, adding that the matter is not only related to the Yemen war but also regarding the movement of ships in Bab al-Mandab.

The air base on the island of Mayon allows those who control it to project power in the strait and easily launch air strikes in Yemen. It also will provide the base for any operations in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and East Africa.

Last April, Satellite images from Planet Labs seen by the AP showed trucks and construction equipment a 1.85-kilometer-long runway on the island.

According to the agency, the Emirati decision to build an air base on the island comes after the UAE dismantled parts of a military base it was running in Eritrea, and used it as a point to start its operations in Yemen.

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