Bratislava, Slovakia: The UAE's role in Socotra is purely of a developmental and humanitarian character, said Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
Speaking to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), on the sidelines of the GLOBSEC2018 Bratislava Forum, the Minister acknowledged that better communication on Socotra was needed.
"Because Socotra was far away from the conflict in Yemen, we took a decision not to communicate what we were doing there. In hindsight, we should have communicated more."
Dr. Gargash said that the UAE was involved in Socotra in a big way since 2012, with humanitarian aid efforts increasing since Cyclone Chapala struck the archipelago in 2015.
"Since then, over 40 aid projects involving providing subsidies to fishermen, improving harbours and infrastructure, as well as utility development have taken place."
The most recent aid efforts involved the Emirates Red Crescent, ERC, deploying three aid ships loaded with tonnes of necessary food supplies to assist the community during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Commenting on the latest events surrounding the statement issued in the name of Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmad Bin Dagher, the UAE Minister said that the issue "was blown out of proportion."
"There are elements that don’t want to see the UAE in Yemen, playing the role that it is doing successfully, with an effective military, that has been able to defeat Al Houthis, pushing them out of South Yemen, and challenging them in the North, all under the umbrella of the Arab Coalition," he explained.
Dr. Gargash added, "The criticism that we have received in Socotra revolves around the same people that will criticise the UAE time and again. Clearly, our role in Socotra is about humanitarian development, and we continue to do so to support this island community."
No ambitions on Socotra
"The UAE’s role in Socotra is not strategic. The UAE does not have any ambitions on the archipelago. It is a Yemeni territory," he stressed.
The Minister went on to explain that the Socotra episode is closed.
However, he said, "I assure you in a month’s time another development will arise to criticise the UAE. Why is this happening? Because the UAE has been active and effective."
"Our commitment to the Yemeni population is genuine. Our commitment to a stable Yemeni political process is genuine. Some people are feeling worried about our effectiveness," Dr. Gargash emphasised.
UAE efforts in Socotra are, without a doubt, of a humanitarian and developmental nature, he concluded.