Socotra port chief sacked for exposing 'unlawful' UAE arms shipment

Socotra port chief sacked for exposing 'unlawful' UAE arms shipment
2 min read
06 March, 2021
Riyad Suleiman was sacked after he criticised the UAE for sending weapons to the southern separatist group on Yemen's Socotra island.
The UAE-backed STC has tried to consolidate its control over Socotra [Getty]
The director of Yemen's Socotra port, Riyad Suleiman, was dismissed from his position by the ministry of transport just days after he uncovered the docking of an Emirati ship carrying military equipment onto the island.

Suleiman was replaced by Muhammad Salem Muhammad as the port's new director general, Yemen's Minister of Transport Abdel Salam Hamid announced on Facebook on Thursday.

Socotra governor Ramzi Mahrous said an Emirati ship delivered military equipment, including armoured vehicles, to the Southern Transitional Council in late February.

An official at Socotra port told Anadolu Agency that the decision to sack Suleiman followed his refusal to allow the UAE ship to “unlawfully” enter the port.

A local source told Arabi 21 on condition of anonymity that "these UAE military vehicles and vehicles were sent to be used against civilians and the local population, under the pretext of providing humanitarian aid."

Hamid assumed his role in the government last December per the Riyadh Agreement, which aimed to unify the internationally recognised government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and the STC into a power-sharing administration.

Saudi Arabia led a coalition in March 2015 to restore Hadi's government and crush the Houthi insurgency. The UAE, though a coalition member, has divergently backed the STC in Yemen’s south and on the Socotra island.

Abu Dhabi has attempted to leverage the faction to gain control of south Yemen's ports and the island in a bid to bolster its global maritime trade and regional sphere of influence.

Despite the Riyadh Agreement the UAE has faced repeated accusations of covertly backing the STC, in clear violation of the deal. 

The STC took over the island of Socotra in June last year, following a years-long power struggle between them and the island’s authorities.

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