The United Arab Emirates is building an air base on a volcanic island (Perim) off Yemen that sits in one of the world's crucial maritime chokepoints for both energy shipments and commercial cargo, media reports said Wednesday.
Perim Island is in the Bab El Mandeb strait, the navigation choke point between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, the most strategic point in this area. Following the recognition of Israel by the United Arab Emirate, Perim Island could now become a strategic hub for Intelligence collection which benficiaries are the Anti-Iran Coalition in the Middle East, according to Intel-lab which also reported in March:
"Ongoing leveling and grading activities as a consequence of the relocation of UAE AF Presence in Assab Airport (Eritrea) to Perim Island (Yemen) in Bab El Mandeb Strait. The runway in construction will be 1800 meters long and 50 meters wide, which is well within the requirements for a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III to land and take off. Two protected light structures possibly serving as UAE contingent Headquarters are located on the south border of the existing main apron, both structures seem to be powered by electric generators."
According to the Associated Press, recently there was tension between the UAE and Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi came in part from an Emirati demand for his government to sign a 20-year lease agreement for Perim.
The apparent decision by the Emiratis to resume building the air base comes after the UAE dismantled parts of a military base it ran in the East African nation of Eritrea as a staging ground for its Yemen campaign, according to the Associated Press.
While the Horn of Africa "has become a dangerous place" for the Emiratis due to competitors and local war risks, Presim or Mayun has a small population and offers a valuable site for monitoring the Red Sea, said Eleonora Ardemagni, an analyst at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies. The region has seen a rise in attacks and incidents.
"The Emiratis have been shifting from a power-projection foreign policy to a power-protection foreign policy," Ardemagni told AP. It increases "their capacity to monitor what happens and to prevent possible threats by non-state actors close to Iran."
Gulf Arabs wrest strategic Perim island of Yemen
Perim Island may be a small lump of windswept volcanic rock at the entrance to the Red Sea but its capture by Gulf Arab forces from Houthi fighters was a welcome victory for Yemen's government and its allies, Reuters reported on October 5, 2015.
The successful action denied Iran, the Houthis' main ally, a symbolic foothold astride trade routes as the Saudi-led Gulf Arab states and Tehran vie for influence across the Arab world, the Reuters said
When southern Yemen split from the British as a Soviet-satellite state, the authorities banished most of Perim's 4,500 people to turn the site into a military base, a modest outpost of socialism set amid Africa and Arabia.
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan hailed the capture of Bab al-Mandab as a major victory for the coalition.
"We consider the complete control taken by coalition and popular resistance forces over the Bab al-Mandab (strait) and the defeat of the Houthis as the beginning of the end of this renegade group and those backing them," Sheikh Abdullah said in a speech before the United Nations in October 2015.
sets its sights on the Red Sea and Bab El-Mandeb
Israel aims to gain control over the most important sea straits in the region, which belong to the Emirati and Saudi bases, which enhances the expansion of Israel's military and strategic influence, according to Dr. Adnan Abu Amer of Middle East Monitor.
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