The U.S. Defense Department said Wednesday that it was deploying advanced fighter aircraft to the United Arab Emirates to help protect the country against the threat posed by Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi rebels.
In a statement, the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin informed UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahy via telephone Tuesday that he was sending the aircraft to bolster U.S. military support for the country.
Austin also agreed to send the USS Cole, a guided missile destroyer, to assist the UAE navy and make a port call in Abu Dhabi, the department said.
It said the deployments were meant send “a clear signal that the United States stands with the UAE as a long-standing strategic partner."
Yemen's Houthi rebels recently launched three missile attacks on the UAE, including a foiled attempt that targeted a base that hosts U.S. forces.
The Houthi movement, which is fighting a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen that includes the UAE, has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The most recent attack occurred during a visit Monday by Israel's president, when UAE forces intercepted a missile. Israel and countries on the Arabian Peninsula have pursued closer relations in recent years as a bulwark against Iran.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz began a two-day visit to Bahrain on Wednesday, during which he will sign a security agreement with Bahraini leaders, according to Israeli media reports.
The Biden administration has said it is considering financial sanctions against the Houthi rebels and their leaders as part of an effort to get the Houthis to join talks to wind down the war in Yemen. The eight-year conflict has devastated Yemen, a nation where of millions of people have been pushed into poverty by clashes and government mismanagement.
Some information for this report came from Agence France-Presse, The Associated Press and Reuters.