Saudi Arabia establishes military base on Yemeni island near Bab el-Mandeb: Report

Saudi Arabia is reportedly constructing a military base on a strategic Yemeni island as the Riyadh regime seeks to consolidate a foothold in the crisis-hit Arab country in the wake of a devastating Saudi-led military onslaught that has killed thousands of Yemenis and reduced critical infrastructure to rubble.

A Yemeni military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arabic-language Arabi 21 online newspaper that Saudis are setting up military installations on Zuqar Island near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, after dispatching dozens of military personnel to the area.

The source added that more than 50 Saudi military personnel are currently stationed on the island, which was formerly controlled by local forces affiliated with the United Arab Emirates, before their withdrawal a few months ago.

He further noted that Saudi forces have begun constructing buildings across the island, including a command center as a sign of the kingdom’s desire to convert it into a military base on the Red Sea.

The source pointed out that the role of Saudi forces has evolved from providing support to the Yemeni coast guard forces loyal to Yemen’s former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, to strengthening their own military presence on Zuqar Island.

Last month, Arabi 21, citing an informed source, reported that Saudi Arabia had dispatched military forces to the island, and provided the so-called Yemeni coast guard forces with gunboats.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past four and a half years.

The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.