Yemen - The deployment of armed forces on the strategic island of Maon in Bab al-Mandav has been approved
Brigadier General Tariq Saleh, an armed militia commander and nephew of the late Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, admitted that his forces, backed by the UAE, are stationed on the strategic island of Maon near Egypt in Bab al-Nadav, where there is a secret air base currently under construction.
A report by the AP news agency published late last month claimed that the UAE was building a "secret air base on the strategic island of Maon in the Bab al-Mandab Strait".
However, Saudi Arabia, which leads Arab allied forces in Yemen, has denied reports of the presence of UAE forces in the Yemeni islands of Socotra and Maon.
The official Saudi news agency, Spa, quoted a coalition official as saying that "there is no truth in the news that there is a presence of UAE forces in the islands of Socotra and Maon."
Information coming from a website that tracks the movement of ships shows that at least two ships owned by UAE have sailed to the island since it was published in May by the AP news agency about the construction of the base.
The UAE has not responded to repeated requests for comment about the base. However, the Saudi-led coalition later acknowledged the presence of "equipment" on the island in the Bab al-Mandab Strait.
Although no country has announced its connection with the air base under construction, the cargo movement linked to the construction of a huge 5.6-kilometer runway across the island is linked to the UAE. Legislative Yemeni officials have demanded an official inquiry into the base.
In an interview published in the Arabic-language news site of the Russian news agency Sputnik, on Monday, Saleh admitted in the presence of his national resistance forces on the island.
Saleh said, "We have forces belonging to the Yemeni Coast Guard… located on the island of Maon, and there is also a small force of Arab coalition forces on the island represented by Saudi forces. The route was established to provide future logistical support to joint forces on the west coast of Yemen, or any other side."
He added that the island of Maon "is a Yemeni island and will continue to belong to Yemen."