As the United Arab Emirates vowed punishment for the Houthi missile and drone strike on key targets in the country, the United States also condemned the attack.
“The UAE condemns this terrorist attack by the Houthi militia on areas and civilian facilities on Emirati soil…(It) will not go unpunished,” its foreign ministry said. “The UAE reserves the right to respond to these terrorist attacks and criminal escalation.”
Iran-backed Houthi rebels Monday targeted a key oil facility in Abu Dhabi and the UAE capital’s international airport with explosive-laden drones launched from Sana’a airport, the Saudi-led Coalition that backs Yemen’s internationally recognized government said Monday.
The UAE, a member of the coalition, has armed and trained local Yemeni forces that recently joined fighting against the Houthis in Yemen’s energy-producing Shabwa and Marib regions.
“With (nuclear) negotiators running out of time, the risk of a deterioration in the region’s security climate is rising,” said Torbjorn Soltvedt, principal MENA analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a phone call with his Emirati counterpart, condemned the attack, the UAE state news agency reported.
A statement by the State Department said, “The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attacks in Abu Dhabi today, which struck civilian sites including Abu Dhabi’s international airport, killing and wounding innocent civilians.” The US reiterated its “unwavering commitment to the security of the UAE”
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington would work to hold the Houthis accountable.
The Biden Administration lifted the US terror designation imposed on Houthis almost a year ago, possibly to encourage a peace arrangement, but the Iran-back group continued attacks against Saudi Arabia and rejected proposals for a ceasefire.
Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said the group fired five ballistic missiles and “a large number” of drones at Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports, an oil refinery in Musaffah and several “sensitive” sites in the UAE.
The Saudi-led alliance carried out air strikes on Yemen’s Houthi-held capital Sanaa, Reuters witnesses said, following the strike on the UAE and after the coalition intercepted eight drones launched toward Saudi Arabia on Monday.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack on the UAE and urged “all parties to exercise maximum restraint and prevent any escalation”, his spokesperson said.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the attack threatened regional stability.
Riyadh and Abu Dhabi had moved to engage directly with Iran in recent months to avoid any wider conflict that could disrupt the region’s economy. The Yemen war is widely seen as a proxy war between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran.
The Houthi strike could derail UAE and wider Gulf dialogue with Iran, said UAE political analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla.
“The UAE is not going to take this very lightly,” he said.