Friends of South Yemen

Pattern strip

Raafat Ali Ibrahim, the STC’s man in Socotra, talks about recent developments on the island.

Raafat Ali Ibrahim
Raafat Ali Ibrahim

Question: Talk abounds about regional and strategic competition for Socotra. Parties affiliated with the government of Hadi and countries like Qatar and Turkey accuse the United Arab Emirates of controlling the island.

Answer: The media of the Reform Party, the wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen, talks about the presence of the UAE in Socotra which it accuses of looting. Sometimes they say that the Emiratis occupied the island. This is completely untrue. Socotra and the UAE have had a relationship for more than 70 years. The sons of Socotra emigrated to the Gulf countries and today they are living and working in the UAE. The presence of the UAE, which has benefited all aspects of life on the island, coincided with the formation of the Arab coalition.

In the health sector the UAE has built the Khalifa Hospital which it finances. Emergency cases are transported to the UAE for treatment and provision has been made for the care for more than 4,000 disabled people. The Ataya School has also been built and electricity has been provided free of charge to all the citizens through the construction of two power stations. More than 100 wells are now extending the water network to all villages and roads have been built in the eastern and western areas along with a fish factory. One hundred fishing boats were provided free of charge to local fishermen and football clubs have been financed. Local artistic groups have also been invited to festivals in the UAE.

Question: How do the Socotrans feel about the presence of political and military forces on the island? How has the STC helped them?

Answer: The people want all conflicting forces to leave so they can deal calmly with their internal problems. They feel very comfortable after governor Ramzi Mahrous and the Reform Group stopped managing the archipelago and protested calling for them to depart. There are 18 electoral centres on the island and the people are managing the governorates.

We notice the intensification of the media campaign launched by the Qatari and Turkish media against the local administration of the island and the market of lies, because there is no significant acceptance of Qatar in Socotra. There was no prior relationship between Qatar and the island. As for the relationship of the sons of Socotra with the Turkish presence, it is completely nonexistent. After the Reform Party group assumed power in the archipelago in recent years, a group of Socotran members of the Muslim Brotherhood went to study in Turkey.

Question: What are your plans for education, health and infrastructure?

Answer: The Khalifa Humanitarian Foundation built the Khalifa Bin Zayed hospital and Saudi Arabia has established a field hospital. In the future we are seeking to develop Arab and international tourism through the development of the airport. The port will also be expanded for marine tourism. UNESCO, the Arab coalition and supporting countries will be consulted about establishing a university.

Attention also needs to be given to the unique environment and cultural heritage of the Socotra archipelago which will open the door to tourism and scientific evaluation of its biological diversity. The people have their own conservation measures regarding grazing and trees which are only cut down when necessary. The United Nations should provide greater assistance in preserving the status of Socotra as a natural reserve.

Question: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

Answer: The people of Socotra love their island and will not allow any invader to set foot on it or to separate it from the body of the southern land.

Interview - SPArabia