Sana'a, the capital of Yemen
Sana'a, the capital of YemeniStock

An air base being secretly build on a volcanic island near Yemen has been baffling officials attempting to discover the origin of those behind the construction, reported the Associated Press.

Mayun Island is located in one of the most important international maritime straits for energy and commercial cargo shipments.

So far no nation has admitted to ownership of the air base in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. A previous attempt to construct a large 3.5 mile runway across the island several years ago was associated with the United Arab Emirates.

Officials from Yemen’s internationally recognized government told the Associated Press that the UAE is behind the current construction. In 2019, the UAE withdrew its troops from the Saudi battle against the Houthi insurgency in Yemen.

A runway on Mayun Island would give potential control to its owners of what goes on in the strait as well as the ability to launch airstrikes into Yemen, or other military operations in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden or East Africa.

Eleonora Ardemagni, an analyst at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, told The Guardian that the region has become a “dangerous place” for the UAE due to competing powers and the years long civil war in Yemen. However, Mayun is sparsely populated and is a convenient location for monitoring the Red Sea and other regional hot spots, which has seen a rise in attacks in recent years.

“The Emiratis have been shifting from a power-projection foreign policy to a power-protection foreign policy,” Ardemagni said.

The air base would increase “their capacity to monitor what happens and to prevent possible threats by non-state actors close to Iran.”