January 26, 2022
DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates may upgrade its defensive capabilities after missile attacks https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/uaes-defense-ministry-destroyed-2-houthi-ballistic-missiles-wam-2022-01-24 by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, while continuing diplomacy with Tehran to reduce regional tensions, a senior UAE diplomat said.
The Emirati envoy to the United Nations, Lana Nusseibeh, told CNN on Tuesday that UAE intelligence showed the two assaults – the first on the regional commercial and tourism hub – had originated from Yemen, and there was also a need to stem illicit flows of weapons and funds to the group.
A Saudi-led military coalition, which includes the UAE, accuses Iran of supplying the Houthis with arms, which both Tehran and the group deny.
Monday’s strike, aimed at a base in Abu Dhabi hosting U.S. forces, was thwarted by American-built Patriot interceptors, after a deadly attack a week earlier on the capital.
Nusseibeh confirmed ongoing security discussions with Washington but declined to provide details. The UAE uses the U.S. anti-missile interception system THAAD.
“Our ability to intercept and deflect these attacks is world class,” she said. “There can always be upgrades and improvements and… additional intelligence cooperation and I think these are the fields we’re looking at with our (U.S.) partners.”
She said the UAE, which has urged Washington to reinstate a terrorist designation https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/us-yemen-envoy-lenderking-visit-gulf-london-state-department-2022-01-19 of the Houthis, was also discussing with partners increasing pressure on the group to engage with stalled U.N.-led peace efforts.
“That means listing them again on sanctions regimes … potentially listing additional figures, it means stopping the illicit flow of weapons and finance to them.”
The Houthis said they are punishing the UAE for backing https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/uae-backed-forces-press-yemens-marib-despite-houthi-warnings-2022-01-25 forces battling the group in energy-producing regions, after the UAE in 2019 largely distanced itself from Yemen.
The Houthis have repeatedly launched attacks on Saudi Arabia in the war, seen as a proxy conflict between Riyadh and Tehran.
Nusseibeh said the Houthis would not succeed in undermining the UAE’s safe-haven status.
The UAE, which has been engaging with Iran, would continue diplomacy aimed at de-escalation, she said, while reserving the right to defend itself “defensively and offensively” in the Yemen conflict.
(Reporting by Ghaida Ghantous; editing by John Stonestreet)