Using satellite imagery and ship-tracking data, Jane’s revealed in February 2017 that the UAE had begun constructing a 3.2 km-long runway on the volcanic island in late 2016, probably to support its military operations in southern Yemen and/or help secure the strategically important maritime chokepoint.
However, DigitalGlobe satellite imagery shows construction stopped less than a year after it begun. Some construction equipment had been removed by 1 October 2017 and the construction site and support area appear to have been completely evacuated by 25 October. Barges and landing craft were still present in the bay formed by the crescent-shaped island on that date, but none were present on 1 January.
The UAE’s plan to build a military base in Berbera was revealed in February 2017, when it was approved by the parliament of the separatist region of Somaliland, although few details were announced.
The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea reported in November 2017 that the UAE had begun building a naval base west of Berbera and had been granted permission to refurbish and use existing facilities at the city’s airport as a military base for 25 years, primarily for anti-piracy maritime patrols and not for carrying out airstrikes.
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